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State-of-the-art Complex Event Processing technology (CEP), while effective for pattern matching on event streams, is limited in its capability of reacting in real-time to opportunities and risks detected when monitoring the physical or virtual world. We propose to tackle this problem by embedding active rule support within the CEP engine, henceforth called Active Complex Event Processing technology, or short, ACEP. We design an ACEP infrastructure that integrates the active rule component into the CEP kernel. This not only allows fine-grained but also more efficient rule processing. Based on the infrastructure we develop optimization techniques to improve the responsiveness of our system. We demonstrate the power of ACEP technology by applying it to the development of our real-time healthcare system being deployed in Univ. of Massachusetts Medical School hospital. Through performance experiments using real-world workloads collected from the hospital, we show that our ACEP solution is effective and efficient at supporting business process in event-based systems compared to possible alternatives.