What surgery taught me about the cloud

In the process of fixing my shoulder, I discovered some lessons for all enterprises regarding the effective integration of information

What surgery taught me about the cloud

I recently had my shoulder replaced. It was my fault, really. I played semipro football until I was 42, and as an offensive lineman, my shoulders took a beating. I just got around to fixing the damage—a new shoulder.

Those who have had surgery know that most of the time is spent waiting, either for tests, doctors to show up and pass judgement, nurses with meds, and vitals being taken. It’s all part of the routine of surgery.

I’ve consulted with hospitals before, and my most recent experience as a patient was pretty state of the art, as far as the most efficiency you can expect. That said, I have some ideas as to how the process of surgery could be improved, and some tips to improve other processes through cloud computing and other technologies.

I’m often taken aback by stories of sneakernetting information from computer to computer. Part of my shoulder surgery prep was to get an MRI. The MRI technology itself is pretty amazing, yet I was given a DVD to transport the images from the imaging center back to my surgeon. In other cases, FedEx is still a popular way to move information from point A to point B. Why are gigabit networks still such a secret?

There are larger issues: missed opportunities to make the transport and use of this information more valuable to the surgeon, the hospital, and me. The image of my insides provides the ability to automate AI-based diagnostics of the image, informing all medical staff about potential complications or, better yet, other procedures that could be done at the same time, perhaps saving me from future surgeries.

A check of the diagnosis could ensure that there was still an issue with the shoulder, that the surgery prescribed was the best practice, and even automatically size my new titanium shoulder with the single best solution. All of this is possible right now, and the cloud has made it cheap.

The point I’m trying to make is that no matter how long we have lived with a process, we can likely improve it using automation. Change is uncomfortable, but imagine the application of advanced data analytics and AI processing of both structured and unstructured data that is native to the process.

It doesn’t matter if it’s processing sales orders, building a house, manufacturing a product, or replacing my shoulder. Most of the time, businesses leave money on the table by missing core opportunities to improve the business as well as effectively take advantage of innovation.

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