Drug abuse unit kicks paper habit

Drug abuse unit kicks paper habit

About 400 users at the National Institute on Drug Abuse share documents remotely via the Web and an internal LAN running LiveLink document management software.

Electronic document management and storage system makes collaboration easier

Until recently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse had a dependency of its own: paper.

Instead of folders and filing cabinets, the National Institutes of Health unit needed an electronic document management and storage system to facilitate the collaboration vital to biomedical research, said Jim Glass, NIDA's chief of informatics.

'We needed a system that would support the drug development cycle from preclinical discovery through clinical trials, all the way up to Food and Drug Administration approval,' he said.

In 1995, NIDA chose the LiveLink document management system, owned then by Odesta Systems of Chicago. When Open Text Corp. of Waterloo, Ontario, bought Odesta, the software advanced from a client-server application to a Web app.

That made it easy for more than 400 NIDA researchers across the country to open up, Glass said.

Most of the documents are standard Microsoft Word files, but LiveLink can open almost any format, said Dorisa Harris, client executive with Information Management Consultants Inc. of McLean, Va., the LiveLink systems integrator.

NIDA currently uses LiveLink 9.001, written in Java and Extensible Markup Language. It has Outside In viewing software from Stellent Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minn., for looking at Microsoft Excel, Access and PowerPoint and Adobe Portable Document Format files, or just about anything else, Harris said.

Users nationwide

NIDA runs LiveLink over a Windows NT LAN at its Bethesda, Md., headquarters. But 80 percent of the users of NIDA's clinical trials network are at 13 geographic nodes: Delaware Valley/Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Great Lakes, Long Island, New England, New York, North Carolina, Ohio Valley, Oregon, Pacific Region, Rocky Mountain, South Carolina and Washington.

Those researchers, doctors and grants specialists access LiveLink through their Web browsers and a TCP/IP connection. Each node has a LiveLink administrator who assigns passwords and user rights for viewing and searching.

LiveLink has a virtual private network firewall from Lucent Technologies Inc. of Murray Hill, N.J., and extra security from an electronic audit trail, said Suresh Shenoy, IMC executive vice president. The repository is an Oracle8i database management system.

'Document management is a cultural shock to an organization, but LiveLink has been very easy for users to pick up,' Glass said. IMC did some training in small groups, he said. NIDA also posts training documents online.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above