he excitedly recalls hearing a lecture by the computer scientist Alan Kay more than thirty-five years ago on object-oriented programming.
To give the ER doctors and nurses what they really needed, a computer system had to be built from the ground up. It had to be encyclopedic (one missing piece of key data would defeat the purpose); it had to be muscular (a single MRI, for instance, ate up a massive amount of data capacity); and it had to be flexible (a system that couldn’t incorporate any data from any department in any hospital in the past, present, or future was useless).
It also had to be really, really fast. Not only because slowness kills in an ER but because, as Feied had learned from the scientific literature, a person using a computer experiences “cognitive drift” if more than one second elapses between clicking the mouse and seeing new data on the screen. If ten seconds pass, the person’s mind is somewhere else entirely. That’s how medical errors are made.
To build this fast, flexible, muscular, encyclopedic system, Feied and Smith turned to their old crush: object-oriented programming.