Flu Dramatizes IT’s Role in a Public Health Crisis

by Monica Mehta, August 2010

It’s October 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and thousands of schoolchildren have come down with a mysterious cough. A Department of Health official is charged with figuring out what’s happening. With the help of an IT infrastructure that’s connected to governments, public health entities, and military and law enforcement officials, it’s quickly identified as an unfolding influenza pandemic—and nipped in the bud before it becomes a global outbreak.

That’s the plot of Flu, a short film made by Oracle Public Sector Presents that displays how Oracle’s enterprise technologies can be used by public sector officials to gather, share, analyze, and act on real-time health information. Peter Doolan, vice president of sales consulting at Oracle, spoke to Profit about the movie and the IT readiness of the public sector in a real-life crisis.

Profit: Why was it important to make this film?

Doolan: Oracle Public Sector Presents wanted to use a highly visual format to show the breadth and the depth of Oracle’s solution portfolio, and how that portfolio can help healthcare providers and public health officials respond to a rapidly developing crisis. As we’ve seen from last year’s H1N1 flu pandemic, the rapid dispersal of information, the analysis of that information, and the ability to make actionable decisions based on that information are critical.

Profit: How prepared is the public sector for the sort of outbreak depicted in Flu?

Doolan: There’s already a very well-established health information network around the country, with a centralized command and coordination of networks at the state and local levels. We’re seeing a new level of leadership and awareness across federal, state, and local boundaries that is allowing the public sector not only to innovate using business intelligence but also to get first-mover advantage. The new leadership also sees the benefit of data transparency, public-private partnerships, and open systems, versus the old guard of proprietary systems and stovepipe applications. We’re seeing much more agile, responsive, and transparent IT infrastructures for servicing the needs of citizens.

Profit: How can the public sector be better prepared for a health crisis?

Doolan: Public sector organizations need to continue to connect the silos of information that exist across the country and to create partnerships between public and private networks so they can exchange information at a public level.

Profit: What are the upcoming IT trends in the public sector?

Doolan: Governments are investing more in open, standards-based technologies to ensure that different information systems can easily communicate and exchange information for the public good. We need to look hard at the enterprise architecture that underpins these systems. Too often, the IT industry has been a potpourri of technologies and processes cobbled together. In the future, enterprise architecture such as service-oriented architecture will provide the pattern for building and integrating systems. Other areas of investment are going to be cloud computing and prepackaged solutions based on open standards. To view the movie Flu, go to launch.oracle.com and type the word FLU in the PIN field.

For More Information
Outsmarting a Deadly Virus
Oracle Business Intelligence
Oracle Solutions for Healthcare


Monica Mehta is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Profit.


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