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Thanks to Mobile Apps, Users Can Access IBM z Systems Services and Data

Mainframe Mobile App Throwdown

There’s a mainframe in your pocket. Well, not quite, but its data may be. This is thanks to the proliferation of mobile apps being built to support a variety of industries, including banking, retail, insurance and travel. Currently:

  • 92 of the top 100 world banks have mobile apps
  • 23 of the top 25 U.S. retailers have apps
  • 10 of 10 of the world’s largest insurers have apps
  • 23 of the top 25 world’s largest airlines have apps

According to these numbers, mobile mainframe is here to stay. This became especially evident when IBM announced the winners of the second IBM Mainframe Mobile App Throwdown in May. In the competition, IBM z Systems* clients and business partners were challenged to show off their latest and greatest mobile apps.

Safety First

Michele Dankowski, software engineer director, and team led by Robert Samuel, Gerry Cormier and Patrick Daniher at Aetna, a U.S.-based managed healthcare provider, took first place. The app Nurses in Motion (NIM) relies heavily on an IBM Business Process Manager, which integrates with back-end z Systems and CICS* capabilities.

This app is important for several reasons. It can lower the risk of incompatible drug interactions and reduce the number of drug-interaction deaths. According to the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, people between the ages of 65 and 69 have on average nearly 14 prescriptions a year, with that number jumping to 18 for people 80 to 84. Additionally, persons over the age of 65 average 12 prescription changes a year. This large number of prescriptions and prescription changes result in more than 7,000 drug-interaction deaths a year in the U.S. (1.usa.gov/1NOpTtB).

Although the Business Process Manager server effectively manages many of the processes visiting nurses engage in, including prescription changes, it’s not always possible to log in to the server at the patient’s site. NIM addresses this deficiency by managing the entire visiting-nurse interaction with a patient, beginning when a patient contacts a Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) representative.

After a VNA work order is initiated, it’s sent via an IBM Process Portal to the Business Process Manager server and then as a push notification to a visiting nurse’s NIM-enabled mobile device. When the nurse logs in to the app, he or she is presented with a list of tasks, such as setting up a new medication. If a new medication is required, it’s submitted to a drug utilization review application. If there’s a potential drug conflict, the nurse transfers the information from NIM to the appropriate pharmacist, who then receives a notification and opens a pharmacist app to review the patient’s list of medications.

If the pharmacist approves the new medication, the nurse receives another notification, completes the new drug setup and closes the work order. NIM then communicates with the Business Process Manager server, which pushes the process to the VNA, where an office worker closes out the order on the Process Portal. The visiting nurse continues to the next patient and repeats the process—reducing the number of drug-interaction deaths.

The mobile enablement demonstrated by the NIM app shows the value of starting with a proof point on mobile and growing to a broader business benefit. The success of the contest entry from Aetna known as WUzUP CICS, which provided remote access into the IT operations status of CICS, DB2* and MQ, was a catalyst for extending a business application to mobile.

According to Jeff Kohan, director of Systems Engineering, Aetna, “the simplicity and value of connecting mobile to the mainframe became very visible across the organization with the “WUzUP CICS” app. Our team has been motivated to develop other business applications in this manner with the goal of enhancing the experience of employees and customers.”

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.



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