Tuesday, 28 February 2012

the importance of survivability

I was at the hospital the other day, as an outpatient. 

The hospital was brand new with state of the art technology throughout. After following the obscure route to the department I required, I was greeted by a queue.  Not a big queue, but a definite queue, all the same.

The person behind the reception desk, who was by herself, explained to me and the other people in the line that the computer systems were down, as they were constantly integrating the old and new systems,  consequently unless we knew the consultant we were seeing it might be a wait.

The wait did in fact happen and the line started to move out of the department into the adjacent corridor.

It made me think that there are some serious implications of a hospital system going down. 
  1. When the system went down, there was only one person left to do the job of three or four.  Certainly with a computer system the job was a one person job, but without it more staff were required. This meant the computer was saving money for the NHS as long as it was working.
  2. It is critical that a hospital computer work, in this instance, there were two other terminals with old databases which could be manually searched for the information but things such as the time of appointments and other key information was missing.  This made me realise the importance of a survivable system for hospitals but also for all places of work where information time is money.
  3. The third issue is that of redundancy, without the back up computer systems the wait would have been a lot longer.  The fact that there was redundancy of information meant that the hospital did not grind to a halt but managed to limp along.
As we progress into the 21st Century, it is important to realise that if it is digital it is transitory in nature and can easily be destroyed, manipulated and  lost. Without hard copy we are all at risk of losing important things as more critical information about our lives is put into digital format.