A repeating pattern with new technologies is a revolutionary vision, where the world is completely changed, followed by crushing disappointment when the technology turns out to be patchy or limited. But a relatively new theme in the reporting of this pattern is the issue of data standards. Today's hyped technologies often come with this warning: Sort out the data standards issues first, or this technology will fail to meet expectations.
We're seeing this with the Internet of Things. It's also apparent with 3D printing, as highlighted recently in Healthcare Purchasing News. The author of this article says 3D printing could be a real boon to surgeons, for example – and have major disruptive impact on traditional supply chain players. But he or she also says that, to be effective, any 3D printing solution in a healthcare setting would have to be “tethered to your enterprise resource planning or materials management information system, as well as your electronic health/ medical record system and billing system”. The reasons are clinical, financial, and legal. As we know by now, the only way to make these linkages economically viable is to apply industry data standards.
IoT and 3D printing interest me because they're cool in themselves, and because they extend the responsibilities of insurance systems in really massive ways. Think about the issues around insuring a 3D-printed part for a car. Who is at fault if the part fails? We could soon find ourselves in a situation where, in order to insure a vehicle, the carrier needs to know its entire maintenance history, maybe even in real time. There may need to be an insurance decision before a mechanic can print and fit a part to the engine.
Folks are grappling with the intellectual property issues around 3D printing. We need to move ahead on standards as well. ASQ