Cloud Computing: Could it Save a Child’s Life (Part 2 of 2)

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  • Power of Cloud in Medicine (cont.)
  • Project to Save Kids’ Lives with Cloud

Power of cloud in medicine (cont.)

Implementing the cloud is becoming increasingly popular in the pharmaceutical industry. According to James Staten of Forrester, almost all drug firms are using cloud – at least for research and development. The most obvious primary driver for that, he says, is its cost-effectiveness.

Additionally, though, using the cloud makes it much easier for everyone on a team to work in concert, with all drafts saved in real-time. Sage Bionetworks President Dr. Stephen Friend points out that it’s not just coworkers and affiliates who want to collaborate with their data and concepts actually, but competitors.

That’s because there is a shared concern with cutting costs as much as possible. When everyone decides to throw their information into one pot, it means all companies are able to reduce the financial vulnerability associated with these densely rigorous projects.

It isn’t just drug and other medical companies that are being aided by this technological revolution; it’s helping patients. For instance, Pathwork Diagnostics is a healthcare outfit that is storing a massive amount of cancer biopsy data on cloud servers, notes Staten, which means faster diagnosis and a higher chance of survival.

When tissue comes in from a physician who is unsure of the specific type of cancer, “they can put that single sample into their database on the cloud,” he says, “and, within less than a day, come back with a high-probability diagnosis of what kind of cancer that tissue sample is.”

Getting the kind of cancer pinpointed immediately means that the clinic can shift rapidly into the best possible treatment.

RELATED: In order for any idea to be implemented in the cloud to its full potential, it’s important to remember that it’s not really “the cloud” but “the clouds.” Especially if lives are on the line, you want to make sure your cloud infrastructure is built using the most advanced equipment and techniques. At Superb Internet, we use distributed (i.e. not centralized) storage to avoid any single point of failure for optimal reliability; and InfiniBand (i.e. not 10 Gigabit Ethernet) so that no packets are ever lost, guaranteed. See our cloud plans.

Project to Save Kids’ Lives with Cloud

These three statistics on the vulnerability of young kids around the world really are quite shocking:

  1. More than 6 million kids aged 4 or below die every year from causes that could be prevented, according to UNICEF;
  2. Almost 20,000 boys and girls in that low age bracket die daily of diseases that could be avoided.
  3. The majority of poor, non-industrialized countries have approximately 1 doctor per 1,000 people, compared to 3-6 doctors per thousand in an average “first-world” nation such as the US or UK.

For anyone with compassion, these numbers are heart-breaking even if they seem overwhelming. Doctors will often dedicate pro-bono time to finding solutions for this incredible and ongoing humanitarian crisis.

One such project is OPENPediatrics, explains Manzoor Farid in Thoughts on Cloud. This project is a platform that uses the cloud “to deliver education and information across a global community of medical practitioners who treat critically ill children,” he says. “It is sponsored by Boston Children’s Hospital in collaboration with the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies.”

There is a broader issue that this project and others like it are able to address: leveling the playing field in terms of the amount of knowledge doctors can access worldwide. Just like with the drug companies, everyone is able to benefit from information being easily accessible in the same place.

To better understand what things look like in action, here are four specific components of this particular system designed to help children survive potentially life-threatening illnesses:

  1. A social app that allows doctors to contribute and comment on opinions and findings
  2. Articles and other content on pediatric specialties to more broadly spread that expertise
  3. How-to videos of sophisticated therapeutic methods
  4. Treatment simulators so that doctors can rehearse and practice the process of treatment digitally before carrying it out in real life.

The image of cloud is fluffy and light, but virtual projects like this one are anything but, notes Traci Wolbrink, MD, associate program director for OPENPediatrics. “All around the world there are children who are critically ill,” she says, “and unless you provide the right care at the right time in the right way, these children will die.”

When we talk about technology, it’s easy to get caught up on the intricacies of the back end – to think of it in terms of machines and wires and coding. As indicated by this example, cloud computing is a perfect fit to bring together experts from different fields, and integrate their ideas and information. That way a gap in knowledge doesn’t mean an infant or toddler is unable to survive just because the doctors in their vicinity don’t have access to the most powerful and up-to-date information.

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