Things have changed a lot compared to seven or eight years ago, according to Tulchinsky.
“Back in those days, about 80 people got a transplant every day,” he recalled. “Now, we’re over 110 patients getting transplants every single day.”
Nicholson sees how technology is helping, but there’s more work to do.
“We stand at the intersection of tragedy and hope, and it’s a huge responsibility and calling for us,” said Nicholson. “Getting to use technology to help people extend their lives or expand their quality of life motivates us all.”
Experiencing Cloud Technology Evolution
Managing the national transplant system is the latest phase in the long careers of UNOS’s tech leadership.
Tulchinsky got into IT in 1980, at the dawn of personal computing. Nicholson started his IT career in the mid-1990s, just as the internet revolution started to pick up speed. Both have noted the remarkable changes over their careers.
Tulchinsky was an IT leader in an early-1990s incarnation of America Online (AOL), the pioneering online community “… which for all intents and purposes was a very early version of the Internet,” he said.
Holding up his smartphone he said, “The horsepower of the entire AOL plant was much smaller than what it is in this phone today.”
He said the evolution of online technologies accelerated in the past half-decade. Web services and APIs now allow speed, flexibility and scale unheard of earlier in his career. An application programming interface (API), allows disparate systems and applications to share data. For instance, software from Microsoft can share data with apps from Amazon, Salesforce, Oracle and other tech mainstays. Meanwhile, cloud-hosted software-as-a-service offerings use APIs to communicate with software of pretty much any size.
It's not just about gathering and processing data anymore, said Tulchinsky. It’s about putting data to its best use.
“Data is the means to the end — not the end result itself,” he said. “That's why, for me, APIs have been transformative.”