Posts filed under ‘networking’

Level Up Health Care with Network Technology

medical-techOne of President Obama’s major initiatives will be to bring the US health care system into the 21st century.    Our lagging health care infrastructure has lead to massive medical inefficiency, high premiums to the average citizen and an overall ‘leaky faucet’ effect that is contributing to the pool of problems our economy faces.  The Obama administration has proposed a five year, near $100 billion dollar, initiative to fix our health care system through innovative new technology that includes creating electronic versions of all health records.

Although creating electronic health records is a huge step in ‘leveling up’ our health care system to meet modern day information technology standards, there is also the less celebrity concept of implementing high-tech network technology towards health care.    It will be one thing for doctors and patients to have access to medical data, and another for them to communicate that data.

From the Cisco System’s blog:

“Web 2.0 technologies are beginning to change the practice of medicine,” says Lynne A. Dunbrack, program director for Health Industry Insights a market research and advisory firm in Framingham, MA. “We now have a significant number of doctors who grew up with the Internet, and they want to use online collaboration technology to keep up with the relentless demands for ever-greater speed and efficiency.”

Medical communication technology still needs to catch up to the rest of the Web 2.0 technology , whether it be the ability for patients to easily browse a number of potential doctors or primary care facilities, or the functionality to allow a doctor to instantly access and update a patient’s records via their iphone.  Although medical technology has advanced in leaps and bounds as far as its primary purpose- diagnosing and repairing patients, it still needs to embrace a new wave of communication and network technology.

This may be a difficult task.  One barrier to the health care stimulus’ task of digitzing records is simply doctors and medical specialists are used to the old way of doing things.  It can be extremely difficult to fully transition from the paper to digital world because it is a 180 degree change in the every-day routine and process of the work.  The same goes for embracing new health care networking and communication technologies.

However, the advantages to utilizing these new technologies will far outweigh the hurdles of changing old ways.  Cutting-edge video conferencing can allow multiple specialists to collaborate and diagnose on a level never before possible.      ‘Medical-networking’ platforms can allow for patients to easily communicate with their doctor’s and nurses on a personal level, but prevent over-inundation of the available medical resources.

The first step to leveling up our health care system is for the medical community to change their mindset, and realize that any significant change for the good requires crossing a number of hurdles.  The second step is rewiring and revamping the hardware and network infrastructure of medical facilities across the country.  The barrier to entry here is the enormous cost and risk for both public institutions and private practices to make the digital leap of faith.  There are ways to soften this blow as well.

Large network providers, like Cisco Systems and Juniper networks, can aid public medical institutions by providing the necessary network hardware infrastructure in bulk.   Private practices are scared of technological change because it seems like a risk (and investment) that could set them back some years, or worse, sink their business.    However, some of the costs that private medical institutions and practices will incur can be lowered by purchasing used network hardware and computer equipment, such as a used router or refurbished server.

Although costly, if US medical institutions change their mindset and network infrastructure, it will put us well on our way to 21st century health care.

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April 16, 2009 at 10:03 pm 2 comments

The Router: A Toast to William Yeager

byeager2Many immediately think of Cisco Systems when they think of the inventor of the router.  The truth behind the story is a bit different though.  William ‘Bill’ Yeager, an American engineer born in San Francisco, created the first multiple-protocol router in 1981.  He was serving at Stanford’s Knowledge Systems laboratory at the time, and dubbed the first creation ‘Ships in the Night.’

Yeager describes his time at Stanford and the invention of the first multi-protocol router (from pbs.org)

“Before Sun was formed at Stanford University, efforts were already underway across campus in the medical school to develop the multiple protocol routers that Cisco Systems licensed in 1986 from the Stanford University Office of Technology Licensing. Around Christmas of 1979 Xerox gifted ethernet technology to Stanford, MIT and Carnegie Mellon University. Ethernet-based local area networks were immediately installed in the Stanford medical school, and the department of computer science. This led to the need for what became known as “router technology”. “

Yeager goes on to describe how they used router technology as a connection from the Standford Medical School to the Department of Computer Science.  He describes the order from his boss at Stanford that lead to the technology development: ” ‘You’re our networking guy. Go do something to connect the computer science department, medical center and department of electrical engineering.”   Soon enough, the code for this routing became the standard at Stanford.

This was just the beginning of the story for the router however.  Cisco Systems soon licensed Yeager’s routing technology from Stanford, and went on to successfully commercialize the multi-protocol router.   (Cisco, located in the Bay Area, originally was named after the nickname for the nearby city San Fran-‘cisco’. )  Although multi-protocol soon gave way to IP (Internet Protocol), it’s importance in the landscape of the router was forever etched.

Today, routers of various shapes, sizes, complexity and price shape the landscape that we know as the internet.    This networking equipment varies from small routers that you find in a home or small office, to extremely large routers, like the used Cisco CRS-1 or Juniper T1600,which provide the framework for ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

Routers are the highways that forward information from one location to another, from a PC to the world wide web to another PC on the other side of the world.  The invention has shaped the landscape of the internet, global economy, government defense arena, and human society.

Cheers to William Yeager.

March 25, 2009 at 5:10 pm 1 comment

Basics of the Router

I figure a good way to start off on this blog that deals primarily with used routers, is to provide a general lay of the land.  What exactly does a router do?  How does it fit into the suite of commercial and home networking equipment?  I found a great video below by ‘Techanvil‘ that can illustrate the basics better than I could say:

March 24, 2009 at 8:54 pm Leave a comment


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