Time for clinical to embrace tech diversity

For me I love the Apple operating system. The bash command line is so useful when installing modules and just general coding. I had to invest in a Windows laptop so I could run the hardware of a dynamic vision sensor for my surgical robotics project. This just reminded me how spoilt I was running Mac OS. I quickly ranted to my friends. How can anyone tolerate a Windows computer? I couldn’t install pip, so installing code modules became a real headache. I had to resort to installing a general package called Anaconda. This didn’t include all modules so I had to use SVN to install further modules which just clogged up my right-click menu. It’s clear that Windows is locked down, bloated and doesn’t dispose of files properly. This is why a Mac usually runs for years without slowing down whilst a PC suffers from Windows rot.

Considering this it is no surprise that most of the developers I know have Macs. When I go to the computational imaging department at UCL to see my supervisor pretty much everyone there is coding on a mac. So why is Windows so popular? We could look back and argue that it was the politics of the early era of operating systems. By many in the field, Gates was considered a thief. Jobs went to him with the idea of a graphical interface operating system. Jobs proposed that Gates should work on the software and Jobs would work on the hardware. Gates agreed and developed Windows on the sly. It was generally considered a bad operating system but Gates made strategic deals with big companies like IBM. However, if the operating system was so bad it was a detriment people wouldn’t use it. Even the average non-tech savvy user would stream TV shows online prompting a shift from DVD to online streaming companies like Netflix. For me and many others like me it was the ease and wide choice that prompted online streaming. I have no trouble paying for Netflix because it’s even easier than dodgy streaming sites.

The truth is that Windows is good enough, and it can get worse. People seem to be happy with more bloatware because most of what the average user does is online. All my media consumption and communication is online. So is my work rostering. In fact, if I didn’t code I could most probably get away with a chrome book. Chrome operating system is a glorified web browser but is updates in the background and you don’t need any antivirus software. Also, your operating system isn’t going to get filled up with junk. Although Windows seems to be moving toward less tech minded users we may see an even bigger split between consumers and creators. Right now, I don’t see why the average user shouldn’t move to Chrome operating systems with a Chromebook. If you do want to create/code and you don’t want to spend the money on a Mac, download Linux operating system. It’s free and so much better than Windows. What’s interesting to see is that as computing advances it is becoming more specialized. This is not surprising, we only should look to the history of medicine to see a comparison. As we know more about disease, more specialties emerge.

For maximum efficiency, we should see more specialization in clinical systems and hardware. A mixture of light web apps with well-structured API frameworks to the main clinical system would enable a wider range of hardware to be used in a clinical setting. Right now, all I see is standard all in one desktops plonked everywhere with all the clinical apps installed. In A and E nurse has to fight a doctor for a computer to simply input obs and sign for a medication given. They do the same for another patient and the cycle repeats itself. At least one computer every shift isn’t functioning properly and is stuck on an update cycle. A simple web app connected via an API to the main clinical system for obs and signing for meds could run on a £50 raspberry pi. These are so small and cheap you could you install one by the side of the patient bed with a touchscreen for £100. With the tech we have now there is little excuse for the one size fits all computer plonked everywhere in our clinical environments.

The raspberry pi is cheap, small and can run web apps

3 thoughts on “Time for clinical to embrace tech diversity

  1. this isnt even a tech issue, this is the way that hospitals work.

    the most important thing isnt quality, its liability. big companies have all the insurance and all the liability if something goes wrong. “one size fits all” is legal streamlining, even if its bad design.

    as if any hospital has time to care what goes on the side of the bed. thats part of the very huge package of things that the tech provider supplies and supports.

    i dont think that this is the best way for hospitals to work. but it is, and thats what you probably have to change to get anywhere with this.

    if im wrong, just give me an example. it would be really cool information to have. and then we can say “look how well this example works. lets have more of this!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As always thanks for the comments. I love replying to you. It may be different in the state but there in the UK clinicians have a fair bit of freedom pushing innovation. One of my interviews in the inspiring clinicians section was of James Bird. He developed a reporting system that is now being used and he also developed check lists for a tablet. There seems to be little red tape in terms of legal issues here, each hospital has it’s own server, you can put you app on their server which is fairly secure. It’s just that clinicians are not aware of what can be done. I am posting about APIs today. The message is coming across, more and more clinicians are starting to think about developing niche solutions to problems.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “in the UK clinicians have a fair bit of freedom pushing innovation.”

        that explains a lot 🙂 good to hear, too. thanks very much for clarifying.


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