SOA in Healthcare

Imagine this; you are recovering from surgery in the hospital and you start to feel shaky and get the chills.  Your heart starts beating quickly and you start to breathe rapidly.  Alarms go off on your heart-rate monitor and a nurse comes in to check on you.  They ask you how you are feeling, but you’re disoriented and don’t have an answer.  You’ve gone into septic shock.  The doctors test your blood and find high levels of immature white blood cells, indicative of infection.  They race to save you from the infection that has spread throughout your body.

According to the National Institute of General Medical Services, sepsis is the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals, striking 750,000 Americans and killing between 28 and 50 percent of those people each year.  It is difficult to diagnose as many of the symptoms can be attributed to a variety of causations and it takes a combination of factors to identify the risk of sepsis.  Early detection increases the odds of survival.

So let’s tell this story again, but this time you are at a hospital that has made the investment in Event-Driven Architecture (we’ll talk about that in a minute);  you are recovering from surgery in the hospital and you start to feel shaky and get the chills.  Your heart rate has been increasing and so has your breathing, but you haven’t noticed.  The hospital’s IT system has been tracking all of your monitoring devices over WiFi in real-time and it identifies that your last blood test had a slightly abnormal white blood cell count.  The system automatically identifies the nearest doctor to your room ( who’s wearing and RFID emitter) and alerts them on their mobile device with orders for a new blood test.  It also notifies the lab to prepare to receive the test and the pharmacy to prepare the appropriate antibiotics for sepsis.  Your condition has been diagnosed early and your odds of survival are much better.

So what is an Event-Drive Architecture and how does it work?  First we must understand that knowledge is not power; being able to act on knowledge and change an outcome is power.  Many firms in many industries are investing in business intelligence in order to realize an advantage with Big Data, but as TIBCO founder and CEO Vivek Ranadivé (The pioneer that enabled High Frequency Trading on Wall Street) conveys with his “Two-Second Advantage” mantra;  “Success is no longer determined by how much information people can collect. If you have just a little bit of the right information beforehand – it could be two seconds or two minutes, or even two hours beforehand – it is more valuable than all the information in the world days or weeks later.”

An Event-Driven Architecture is a combination of Service Oriented Architecture and Business Process Management that results in analyzing data in-motion in real-time, and then applying business rules that identify an event and automatically take action once that event occurs.  In order to build these Event-Driven Architectures, Healthcare providers are utilizing technology from vendors such as IBM, Oracle and TIBCO.  For those of you not lucky enough to attend the Gateway to Innovation conference last week in St. Louis, John Conroy from Mercy Health told some amazing stories about how Event-Drive Architecture is helping Mercy Health save lives through early diagnosis of factors that indicate sepsis as well as many other use-cases.  Few healthcare systems are at this maturity when it comes to technology, but many are working feverishly in order to get there, after all, would you rather be admitted to a hospital with Event-Driven Architecture or to a hospital that relies on humans to capture all of the complex data that they face each day and process it with 100% accuracy…