Healthcare technology systems are like the complex systems of the body and are just as vital to patient care delivery and survival.
The body is made up of interconnected systems. The brain is the sophisticated operations centre. The bones and muscles receive commands through the nervous system and send continuous experiential feedback through the nerves. The brain stem also manages involuntary systems. The heart needs no command response to pump blood, or the lungs to breathe. The immune system, the body’s chemist and guardian combined, maintains constant surveillance to prevent germs from infiltrating the physical system. As we grow, the system expands through ongoing learning; it feeds those lessons into a lifetime worth of wisdom.
The digital transformation of health care organizations replicates these complex systems of the body in all their operations. These technological systems have become as vital to patient care delivery as the body’s systems are to a person’s survival. Like our bodies’ mechanisms, the organization’s complex network of collaborative systems informs, responds, and circulates data according to both automated processes and unique commands that result from experiential feedback. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is a primary architect and provider of building blocks for these organizational healthcare networks.
This is the first of a series of articles where we’ll explore these systems and their processes to provide an overview of the major challenges in the digital transformation of healthcare.
At the core of all networks, whether human or technological, is the brain. In terms of a healthcare organization, that brain is a robust network management solution.
The circulatory system
Every cell in our bodies relies on the circulatory system for oxygen and nutrients. Wireless and fixed devices that talk to each other, such as pacemakers and insulin monitors, already allow doctors to monitor their patients at a distance, giving patients greater freedom to engage in daily routines while ensuring necessary treatment and monitoring.
The nervous system
The nervous system responds to feedback from our nerves. It triggers responses, such as when we rub our cold hands to warm them or scratch an itchy mosquito bite. Healthcare organizations that have seamlessly integrated fixed and mobile communications systems have created notification systems that mimic the feedback and response loop of our nervous systems. In emergency situations, this networked nervous system is essential to mobilizing a unified response.
The immune system
The immune system is the human body’s security system. Its protections and vulnerabilities are interconnected and responsive. Like our immune systems, technological systems have protections and vulnerabilities. Ransomware and hack attacks on hospitals around the globe have exposed those vulnerabilities. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has been actively addressing this issue.
The 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. In the healthcare industry, innovations in supply chain management are supported by network tools provided by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise.
Most notable in this innovation is the support of IoT, or Internet of Things. In healthcare, protocols for an Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) are rolled out in cases where continuous access to medical equipment is as important as our lungs’ continuous supply of oxygen.
Children grow in stages and phases, each one associated with its own dramatic physical and emotional changes. Digital transformation is no different. Growth, in digital terms, is about expansion and coverage. In healthcare, disruption is as inevitable as adolescence. But a reliable communications and collaboration system like Rainbow can help smooth out the transitions and keep people connected through change.
The bones and muscles
The strong bones and muscles we build in childhood are the foundation of good health. In healthcare systems, the equivalent of bones and muscles are a strong network infrastructure as a foundation from which all other functions and applications are built. Like our bodies’ muscles, technological muscles grow stronger from being challenged and then recovering.
In terms of network infrastructure, muscles and bones share the load of work through responsive systems. Policy management solutions in healthcare organizations, for example, determine differing access permissions. Built-in redundancy, through the networking of additional back-up devices and automated technology, ensures that the network remains operational even if one of its limbs were to fail.
The heart’s pumping circulates blood throughout our bodies, and replenishes the oxygen in our blood. People—the relationships between patients and their care teams—are at the heart of all healthcare organizations. Managing people, assets and their movements through location-based services (LBS) can be as lifesaving as CPR on a heart that has stopped pumping.
Systems, like people, age. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has been engaged in the challenge of capturing and converting the wisdom of legacy systems as they are replaced for as long as the company has been in existence. The company is now celebrating its 100th anniversary!
In this blog series, we’ll be taking each of these topics and examining it in depth—an exploration sure to be of interest for anyone wanting to stay on top of current challenges in healthcare management. Technology is, after all, a fundamentally human creation. And like the body, its aim is to keep us operating well.
Stay tuned for the next piece in the series!
Contact Carole Delarbre at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise for any further information or resources