Increasing computational power empowers clinicians

I love this time of year. The air is sharp and fresh enough to perk me up in the morning. I find myself being able to reset my body clock from the 3am internet addiction. A lot has happened over the past couple of months. The MSc is now in full swing and the more and more clinicians are getting into coding. As a result Imperial College London have been hosting coding for medics courses and I have had the pleasure of teaching medics how to code functions and analyse data on the course. As Christmas is coming close I find myself being able to take a few days off and work on my stuff at my own pace. I am now sitting in a local coffee shop leisurely answering emails and writing this:


local coffee shop

It seems that London is slowing down for Christmas. Right now I don’t have any dependants so it’s a nice time to reflect. My brother, on the other hand, has kids so I appreciate that not everyone sees Christmas as a time to relax. I myself am doing a night shift in the ED on Christmas eve so it’s not all coffee shops and coding but the clinical/tech balance is fairly sweet at the moment.

Today I interviewed James Bird, the head of emergency services for Charing Cross and St Marys for inspiring clinicians (we was a nurse/matron). The inspiring thing about his story is that he created a software solution without knowing any traditional coding. His software solution was built in Microsoft access! I won’t spoil too much of the interview, that will be edited and released in January. However, his story does raise an important point. The increase in computational power empowers clinicians.

Now it’s understandable to read books like rise of the robots, and see what Google and IBM are doing with machine learning with despair. However, it’s not as bad as you think. If James was trying to innovate in the 1980s he would have had to learn a compiled low-level language. Considering the amount of time and mental anguish this would take he may as well make a career jump into a full-time computer programmer and pursue a degree in computer science. Getting hold of a computer would also be expensive. But this isn’t the case now. James is lucky enough to be innovating now. Now computers are powerful enough to run programs which have layers. He has used high-level easy commands to produce a solution that has clinical value whilst still carrying out his managerial duties.

To those who want to memorise information computing power is a threat. But for those who want to genuinely solve problems and make a lasting impact, the increase in computing power is a gift. As a new year dawns, I urge you. If you have a vision, and would like to see a change in your area, embrace your computer and learn a high-level programming language!

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