Healthcare - the New Frontier for Rule Systems ( again )

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Feb 6 2009: Fair Isaac and ILOG Rules for COBOL.
Oct 20 2008: extracted from another article and expanded.

Every few years for the past 20 years, there has been an initiative to bring a higher level of information technology to the health care industry. It gives one a strong sense of having seen it all before.

But, Health care is still a knowledge-intensive industry in need of advanced information technology and is still one of the most promising areas for rule-based technology. It might make serious inroads in improving the quality and availability of medical data within the next few years.

One highly visible area is the health insurance industry, which is still largely dependent in giant, expensive legacy applications written in the 70s and 80s, with smattering of giant, even more expensive "new legacy" applications written in the 90s that often turned out to be nearly as unmaintainable as the old kludges of yesteryear. For example, new corporate clients for large health insurance companies must often wait 3-6 months to effect changes in the plans they offer to employees.

Health care will probably be a hot area for rule engine applications in coming years.