|Title||Advanced Computing Techniques|
By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will have experienced the management activities required for clinical computer systems and made a substantial practical contribution. They will be able to apply their knowledge and understanding of computing infrastructures, software engineering and relational databases in a Medical Physics specialty, paying due regard to the regulatory and clinical requirements and constraints.
Knowledge and understanding
In preparing for this module material from Stage 1(iv): Clinical and Scientific Computing should be reviewed. The knowledge required in this module involves detailed understanding of:
- The implications arising from emerging standards such as the ISO 80001 family, involving medical devices on hospital IT networks.
- Developments in the use of accreditation and quality systems, with particular reference to software as a medical device and CE marking.
- The use and economics of system redundancy, shared storage resources, back- up resources and contingency/high availability system provision.
- Risk assessment and contingency planning applied to clinical computing, including the provision of adequate staff cover.
- Collaboration arrangements and the division of responsibilities between the Medical Physics unit, the equipment suppliers and the trust IT and informatics departments, with possible associated outsourced responsibilities such as network management.
- The arrangements to avoid virus and malware problems and to maintain systems security through the control of user access and permissions.
- Reviewing distributed computing, parallel computing and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) programming and such developments in the Medical Physics environment.
- Developments in network configuration – firewalls, switches, Local Area Networks (LANs), Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs), etc., and in data storage.
- Clinical protocols – the use of Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) compliance statements and HL7 in equipment procurement and integration.
- Web technology and the use of middleware.
- The contribution of content management software tools in achieving good departmental administration.
- State of the art developments in software engineering tools and software development methods relevant to the host Medical Physics service(s).
- Ethical and security requirements.
Technical and clinical skills
The Clinical Scientist in HSST should develop the technical skills needed to apply their critical understanding of the computing infrastructure within the host department through matter, including:
- Performing a review of the Medical Physics service computer infrastructure, the proposal of a replacement schedule, outlining the anticipated upgrades, confirmation of the adequacy of network bandwidth and back-up storage capacity, together with any necessary manpower developments. Budget consequences should be included.
- Involvement in procuring and upgrading hardware and software used for Medical Physics applications.
- Assessment of service contract provisions and subsequent actions to ensure good value for money.
- Managing resource planning for network or hardware reconfiguration and testing.
- Scrutiny of management and user access control arrangements to maintain database security.
- Managing a software or database development applied to the Medical Physics specialty.
Advanced operational activities
- Ensuring good logging of management activity and operational data exchange through the use of content management software.
- Performing technical audits of Medical Physics computing systems.
- Involvement in the day-to-day clinical computer systems administration.
- Involvement in hardware and/or software upgrades and testing.
- Planning, configuring and problem solving involving clinical relational databases (e.g. in response to changing national reporting requirements or to increase their in-service utility).
- Overseeing database validity and designing database housekeeping tools.
- Developing software solutions to Medical Physics problems, involving methods such as:
- procedural and/or object-oriented languages;
- programming environments such as Matlab, Labview, or ImageJ;
- image processing;
- software scripts;
- use of virtual systems to test upgrade software;
- database developments applied to the Medical Physics specialty.
- Developing a computer modelling solution to a Medical Physics problem, involving methods such as:
- neural networks and their applications;
- artificial intelligence, expert systems, or genetic algorithms;
- computer models for biological systems;
- finite element analysis;
- Monte-Carlo or compartmental modelling.
- Developing interconnectivity solutions to a Medical Physics problems, involving methods such as:
- DICOM data exchange and anonymisation;
- HL7 compliant data transfers.
By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will have demonstrated the skills necessary to manage clinical computing as well as an ability to create software solutions to clinical problems, paying due regard to the appropriate methodology, regulations, standards and ethical requirements. The work will have involved appropriate interaction with clinical colleagues, informatics staff, service users and patients in agreeing the project specification, evolving an acceptable user interface and responding to user acceptance testing. Typical achievements might include:
- Commissioning, integrating and managing a new commercial medical device that includes software.
- Management of a significant software/hardware upgrade to a clinical computer system.
- The development of software, including that which can be defined as a medical device, to reduce costs, or improve efficiency or advance science. (The project could be undertaken jointly with colleagues, using team management principles, if appropriate.)
- Improvement in the day-to-day system monitoring through the provision of automated checking.
- Arranging clinical data transfers to external agencies, including extraction of data from relational databases, observing necessary safeguards.
- The development of automated clinical system housekeeping and QA tasks.
Attitudes and behaviours
The Clinical Scientist in HSST should continually reflect critically on their own potential contributions. They should therefore grow to appreciate the importance of good communications with clinical colleagues in eliciting the technical requirements that configuration decisions are designed to satisfy. They should also know how to react appropriately when dealing with requests for data from external agencies or for data access from local staff members. By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will able to:
- Recognise the importance of the multidisciplinary clinical and technical teams and take responsibility for ensuring appropriate and effective decision-making processes are in place.
- Ensure that the needs of the wider service users are considered in the development of clinical and scientific computing systems.
- Remain up to date with relevant standards, guidelines and legislation related to medical devices (including software), the safeguarding of data, the use of quality systems and the use of medical devices on IT networks.
- Consult with peers to encourage the local integration into appropriate developments in national and international informatics systems.
- Justify the need to balance data confidentiality, security and protection and the sharing of data with relevant stakeholders, including, where appropriate, patients, to ensure high-quality, patient-centred care.
- Promote quality assurance and programmes of continual improvement with regard to clinical and scientific computing systems.