ArgusConnect commences rollout of version 5 secure messaging

ArgusConnect, developer of the Argus suite of secure clinical messaging products has begun deploying an updated version of its software.

Written in Java and available for Windows, MacOS and Linux, Argus v5 touts several improvements over its predecessor including an automated software update service that will reduce the manual intervention required to upgrade the software on an ongoing basis.

The underlying database system used by Argus v5 has been changed from Firebird to PostgreSQL to reduce the prevalence of conflicts with other popular software that use the Firebird database. The new software will feature updated encryption libraries, which the company has indicated will speed up the encryption and decryption of messages for secure transport. Version 5 also includes a statistics gathering feature that will allow practices to report usage statistics to organisations such as Divisions, many of whom have actively supported the rollout of previous versions of Argus but have historically been unable to accurately ascertain actual usage of the software.

While Argus v5 retains email as the underlying transport layer for Argus communication, Mr Ross Davies, ArgusConnect CEO, indicated that the release should be seen as a stepping stone to v5.5, which will be developed with Web Services underpinnings, a technology approach endorsed by the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) for clinical messaging.

Having preempted the functionality with an announcement last year, Argus v5 is slated to enable two-way communication between Argus v5 and software developed by clinical messaging rival Medical-Objects. However it is unclear at the time of writing when such functionality will be available to the customers of each company, and how issues relating to the variable standards adherence of clinical message content will be addressed in such transactions.

Having historically differentiated its products from those of its competitors on the basis of a Free Open Source Software (FOSS) development arrangement, Argus v5 marks the software’s transition to a commercial product. Argus v5 software licenses and support are bundled together on an annual basis for either $99 or $121 per practitioner depending on their Division’s relationship with ArgusConnect. Mr Davies accepted that the software’s transition from a FOSS offering to a commercial product may not be accepted by all customers, however pointed to the commercial realities of providing support and development resources under the company’s historical arrangements.

“There is an expectation that some people that have had Argus entirely free and never paid for support and never paid for it to be installed may fall off, however we expect that people will understand that we need to be financially supported to be able to support them,” said Mr Davies.

While Mr Davies said that he was not aware of practices currently taking advantage of the open source nature of the now-superseded version of Argus, he indicated that the new version’s source code would be made available for transparency reasons if any parties were interested in inspecting the code.

ArgusConnect is currently accepting applications from practices interested in having the new version installed, a process that the company is undertaking to manually manage initially to ensure any outstanding issues with the software or installation process can be monitored. The software will be available to registered customers for unassisted installation thereafter.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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