True or false? There are no two similar snow flakes. (keep reading to find the answer)
Healthcare is a rewarding field to work in, our work directly effects lives and families. It is very easy to trace your work in healthcare and see how it improves others lives.
However when it comes to technology we often try to think that our own solutions are unique and can't be addressed by any other means. While it is true we have very unique circumstances in healthcare from how we use data to how we input it to the uniqueness of each client and system, the reality is we can learn from other industries to solve 90% of our own technology shortcomings, the last 10% is what make healthcare rewarding.
It has been done before
The fact of the matter is most challenges in healthcare IT have been seen before in other industries and those industries came out with solutions to address them. Here are just a few examples:
- Interfaces: In healthcare we got more interfaces than you can shake a stick at, and the other industries have responded with APIs, yes they don't solve for every data type but it solves for a standard structure we can work with, that is half the battle
- Data Storage: We have lots of data, especially lab data, and in other industries the answer for this created Hadoop and a file store meant to handle large amounts of data (think Facebook)
- Software: In healthcare we still largely rely on one or two systems to run our workflows, in other industries this has ben decentralized and they are able to use the best of breed software for each scenario while still keeping data in sync, all the systems work in harmony together
- Architecture: In healthcare we still rely on a point to point rather than a Service Oriented Architecture which promotes the ability to be able to scale software and data as well as make it readily available much faster
Learning from others mistakes
The best part about looking to other industries is not really about finding solutions it is more actually about finding out what their mistakes were.
See we are unique in healthcare and we will have different things to overcome than say another industry but the mistakes are more valuable than the success they had.
The mistakes can help us see our own pitfalls as we design and build systems so that five years later we are not stuck by our own decisions.
This allows us to make solutions that address challenges and not solutions trying to find challenges.
Creative ideas to solve simple challenges
Some of the most heavily relied on technologies today (think: Hadoop, React, Cassandra, Node, etc..) were actually built to solve real-world challenges. In the business world sometimes we end up building software and then find a challenge it solves; however for software engineers this is rarely the case.
You see software engineers 99% of the time build software to ADDRESS a challenge, not because they are trying to find one. Which leads almost every innovation to creating a solution that addresses those challenges.
For instance Oracle database was sold on a business level before it was engineered however engineering had to create relational databases to solve their own challenge.
This leaves a trail of creative ideas that we can learn from.
We are not unique and where we are
The answer to our trivia question earlier is: False. In 1988 Nancy Knight (USA), a scientist at the National Center for Atmosphere Research in Boulder, Colorado, USA, found two similar snowflakes.
If snowflakes can have identical then perhaps in healthcare there are similarities and lessons we can learn from other industries. Not just in software but also in business and operations.
We often diminish engineers in healthcare as not understanding our business and tell them to first shadow doctors and work in the system before trying to come up with solutions; the same should also hold true for doctors and those who work in healthcare, this is not the only way to solve a challenge, we must look into other industries.