The Respiratory System: Information as Oxygen
Information in healthcare is like oxygen. That’s why your network should process data the way your respiratory system works.
It is a remarkable time to be alive.
Most of us can pinpoint, from our own lives and experiences, different phases in the cultural shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. People born before the end of the 1980s remember the first time they used a cell phone to send a text message. Those born in the 90s remember tapping the screen of a smartphone for the first time. Our children have known these devices as part of their environments all their lives.
We’ve been calling this social transformation a “paradigm shift” since Thomas Kuhn coined the phrase in his 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. This ongoing shift has not always been calm or comfortable, but we now use terms like “disruption” in a positive context. We have long accepted the ethos that change is the only constant as a feature of being alive.
In the Information Age, accessing information has become as easy as drawing a breath of fresh air. We often forget that this wasn’t always the case. In the Information Age, access to information is as fundamental an element for knowledge creation as oxygen is to sustaining life. This is especially true in healthcare organizations, within healthcare research and development, and in the places where the two intersect.
In one promising example of the intersection of care and research, Raji Wahidy, a medical doctor and engineer, is one of the founders of Virtual Rehab, a tool that will use virtual reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to provide psychological rehabilitation to vulnerable people. With patients’ full consent, the tool will also collect their data for broader sharing among medical research professionals; and in turn, the results of that research will help improve the tool, in a continuous loop of mutual benefit. Dr. Wahidy predicts a future in which this kind of information-sharing will result in major medical advances. When patient data is shared between researchers worldwide to create massive datasets, researchers can then use those datasets to detect patterns and determine optimal treatment approaches.
“This is exactly our plan for Virtual Rehab,” Dr. Wahidy says. “We will openly share data—decision-making, actions, reactions, gender, race, age, biometrics such as heart rate, blood pressure, biodermal activity, [and] eye-tracking data—with the global [research] community to allow for further research and development to be performed in the cases of mental health and psychological well-being.”
Broad pattern detection on a massive scale is only possible thanks to the rise of big data technology, which gives researchers the ability to examine huge subsets of information bytes that are collected and sorted into taxonomies. Big data—in this case, the massive collection of patient information—has increased the speed of research and of new treatment delivery. In terms of healthcare administration, big data forms the basis for optimizing the processes used in supply chain management, IoT and most business functions.
If we compare information with oxygen, it makes sense to compare big data infrastructure with the human respiratory system.
The lungs’ main function is to supply oxygen to blood cells and remove carbon dioxide. They provide a continuous supply of necessary materials and remove hazardous waste. Network tools provided by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise play the same role in organizations as lungs do in our bodies. The network itself ensures continuous access to all the elements necessary for healthcare to function. The network tools ensure that supply levels are monitored and are replenished before they run out, it makes information for clinical expertise available, and it enables the tracking of trends and patterns to make connections between patient symptoms and treatment protocols.
Bronchi are the two tubes that lead from the windpipe to the lungs. They provide the pathways for air to move in and out. That function is replicated by switch solutions that interface with data center systems that handle storage and processing needs. Storage and processing operations can be automated through the use of protocols and policies so that the load for running them can be switched between on-site local storage and cloud-based storage as needed.
The nose provides on-demand analytics in the computer network of our bodies. When something doesn’t smell right, your entire body knows to respond. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Smart analytics software knows what applications are running on a network, so that application use can be fine-tuned, or restricted, for a number of healthcare enterprise needs. The nose knows how to make sense of data, whether that means flowers are blooming or foul smells need to be addressed immediately!
A robust network, like a robust respiratory system, keeps the oxygen and information flowing throughout the entire body. That’s true whether we’re discussing a physical body or an organizational one. Breathe in... breathe out... we got this!
Contact Carole Delarbre at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise for any further information or resources
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