Until some decades ago, health care services were primarily supplied inside hospitals. The patient had to move from his or her home to the hospital, where various diagnostic and therapeutic treatments were provided. Moreover, inside the same hospital, the various tools and processes were insulated and autonomous. Patients and doctors had to move from one tool to another, often placed in different areas, to acquire the different resources. Information provided by these tools was generally collected via paper records. These records were then physically moved (generally in a very inefficient way) from one place to another in order to exchange information. In many situations, these records represented the most critical element in the health system due to misunderstanding, errors, and loss of information caused by their use. Nevertheless, its main drawback was the difficulty, or even the impossibility, to retrieve information from paper records when there were needs in the future and/or outside the hospital. This situation was largely inefficient, especially from the patient’s point of view. Indeed, he or she had to spend a lot of time moving to and from the hospital and supporting a great deal of stress to supply time and again the same information (often in an incomplete, vague, or erroneous manner), and eventually suffering for errors and/or unavailability of information previously stored in other records.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Inoperability: The inability of a system to perform its intended functions.
Asset: Element able to supply a specific service to an easily identifiable set of users (generally located in the proximity of the asset itself).
Service: Any activity identifiable by a tangible benefit for the end-user.
Interdependency: A bidirectional relationship between two infrastructures through which the state of each infrastructure is influenced or is correlated to the state of the other.
Dependency: The capability of an infrastructure to influence the state of another infrastructure; a unidirectional relationship.
Infrastructure: System composed by many interoperable elements, geographically dispersed, able to supply generalist products (that have to be specialized by the end-user) to an unforeseen set of users, difficult to identify and to estimate.