Measles continues to spread in the United States as health officials seek to stem the worst outbreak of the disease in decades. More than 700 cases have now been reported, about half if them involving children under the age of five.1
James D’Arezzo, CEO of Condusiv Technologies, says, “It is the job of our healthcare database networks to map a situation like this in order to help caregivers control it.” D’Arezzo, whose company is the world leader in I/O reduction and SQL database performance, adds, “Unfortunately, some pieces of this network are missing, and a number of others don’t work very well.”
Experts in the field agree. According to a recent report by team of scientists led by the National Institute of Health, while analysis of data derived from electronic health records, social media and other sources has the potential to provide more timely and detailed information on infectious disease outbreaks than traditional methods, there are significant challenges to be overcome. Big data offers a “tantalizing opportunity” to predict and track infectious outbreaks, but healthcare’s ability to use it for such purposes is decades behind that of fields like climatology and marketing.2
Nonetheless, progress in data sharing has been made. State, local, and territorial health departments now have access to healthcare-associated infections data reported in their jurisdictions to the Center for Disease Control’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia now use NHSN for that purpose.3
However, D’Arezzo notes, this data has its origins in a multiplicity of far-flung healthcare organization IT systems. To be usable, it must be pulled together through millions of individual input-output (I/O) operations. The system’s analytic capability is dependent on the efficiency of those operations, which in turn is dependent on the efficiency of the computer’s operating environment. The most widely used operating system, Microsoft Windows, is in many ways the least efficient; the average Windows-based system pays a 30 percent to 40 percent penalty in overall throughput capability due to I/O degradation.4
Fortunately, says D’Arezzo, I/O degradation is a software problem, one for which relatively inexpensive software solutions exist. Dealing with it does not require (and is not helped by) major investments in new computational and storage hardware. Condusiv Technologies, the world leader in this area, provides solutions that can, in the Windows environment, improve overall system throughput by 30 percent to 50 percent, or more.
“Given the staggering load of data handling required of IT in the healthcare sector today—and with a looming epidemic to deal with—the danger of major system slowdowns, and quite possibly system crashes, will increase dramatically. This is not what healthcare providers need or want. We need to fix this; people’s lives depend on it.”
- McNeil Jr., Donald, “Measles Cases Surpass 700 as Outbreak Continues Unabated,” New York Times, April 29, 2019.
- Potash, Shana, “Focus: Big data for infectious disease surveillance, modeling,” NIH Fogarty International Center, January/February 2017.
- “State-based HAI prevention,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 22, 2018.
- Morin, Brian, “Windows is still Windows Whether in the Cloud, on Hyperconverged or All-flash,” Condusiv blog post, June 5, 2018.
- Landi, Heather, “Report: 15 Percent of Healthcare Organizations Running Outdated Operating Systems,” Healthcare Innovation Group, June 8, 2017.