OUR Governor General, Dame PearletteLouisy, recently praised our new national hospital, the Owen King EU Hospital, indicating it was “among the best of them” in comparison to other health facilities worldwide.
Dame Pearlette toured the new facility last week, and her infectious optimism suggests that we are on the right path. This bodes well for our future as a people, and having access to first class health facilities.
To make her praiseworthy, the commissioning of that new facility will need to avoid several obstacles that we have already observed in other places. Although we are skilled at erecting new structures such as buildings and bridges, our record of creating and maintaining new systems is inconsistent.
This can be seen in:
* The crisis level at the John Compton dam caused by an accumulation of silt;
* The buildup of debris in culverts and rivers, which worsens flooding;
* The threats to road safety caused by loose gravel, uneven roads, or unstable slopes.
Wisely, Dame Pearlette noted that we should maintain the new facility to keep it in tip-top condition. That should help us to extend the useful life of the impressive new facility.
When deploying or upgrading computing systems, a commissioning process may also be undertaken. This is to prove that the new systems are capable of meeting the work demands. Commissioning may involve putting the new system under artificial load conditions, sometimes even greater than the expected workload. If the new system survives this stress-test of an exaggerated workload and remains stable, then it should reliably deliver the expected results under normal conditions.
Could you imagine if such stress testing (sometimes called torture testing) was not done? You would be unimpressed to buy a new computer, only to have it suffer some failure that could have been detected by some earlier testing.
Similarly, the processes, procedures, and people involved in making your entire system function also need to be part of the commissioning process. Although commissioning may seem to focus on the hardware, the software is also important, and in another article, we will consider the needs and impact of software in a healthcare environment.
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