2016 was a landmark year for all of us at Biotronics3D; it was the year that our 3Dnet community of users reached 15,000.

In numerology the number 15 is the number of family and harmony, the number most likely to be in the forefront of innovation. And this is exactly how we also perceive our 3Dnet community, a family of likely-minded individuals striving for innovation in medical imaging. And this is why this number was such an interesting and amazing milestone and achievement for us and we are immensely proud for that.

Today our 15,000 users are spread across 12 countries and work at more than 500 organisations using our system 24/7. We call them internally “3dNet PersonBytes”. Cesar Hidalgo, a professor from MIT, was the first to introduce the concept of a PersonByte, trying to define and to describe the amount of knowledge that one person can reasonable know. This is particularly relevant in the medical domain, a knowledge driven domain, where the size of this knowledge is growing exponentially. The last doctor that successfully managed to have a PersonByte with all the modern clinical knowledge available was Dr. Robert Floyd. The bad news is that he died at 1637, 200 years after Gunteberg and 350 years before the internet. Today clinical practitioners strive for sub-specialisation which is undeniable the one-way highway to the village of Babel: each new medical procedure, each new imaging protocol comes with its own particular embedded ideology and failure to communicate.

In medical imaging especially, the presumptions and dogmas that prevailed Radiology in the era of PACS prior to 2000, are not valid any more. Especially this statement is even more evident when it comes to imaging services which, in my considered opinion, has entered an existentialist crisis (and not just an economic one) due to ever increasing size and complexity of data, the proliferation of imaging outside the confines of Radiology and the incapacity of healthcare eco-systems to withstand the shockwaves of that. As a result, the Radiology PersonBytes are required to take critical disease management decisions whilst suffering from the effects of digital information obesity, stimulus overload and isolated “nichification”.

I believe our  3Dnet community of 15,000, collectively, has the answer to that. I believe the best way to escape the constraints of the PersonByte tower of Babel, is to use technology such as 3Dnet to work collaboratively in even larger teams, something that the modern doctor is very familiar with. This is in line with what Metcalfe defines as the value of the network. The main question here is how easy is this remote collaboration especially when multidisciplinary disease management requires a far more challenging working paradigm and, the very often the exchanged token, is clinical knowledge and not data, something that is tacit, hard or impossible to describe. In Biotronics3D we realise that everyday; with our system, 3Dnet, it’s easy for our users to send medical images and other data around the planet but only data is proven not to be enough. Far from it.  Clinical knowledge and know-how may be weightless in principle but, as Ceasar Hidalgo points out, it’s easier to move heavy copper from mines in Chile to factories in Korea than to move manufacturing know-how from Korea to Chile. Sadly, the same applies in medical imaging today even more than ever.

We perceive the 15,000 PersonBytes in our 3Dnet community as a distributed network of imaging data and clinical skills, and it is very powerful because it consolidates in one place such vast and tacit clinical knowledge. This is the main reason 3Dnet is becoming fast an essential part to organisations of different sizes. It represents a rich source of collective capabilities that are essential to them as it enables them to improve business and clinical processes and outcomes.

And exactly this is our mission, vision and pledge to the clinical community we serve: Disease management and medical imaging is unlikely to become simpler. But our company will raise to this challenge by focusing on social, institutional and technical support that makes distributed clinical collaborations possible and also helps organisations break the vicious cycle of the post-PACS era of commoditised medical imaging and big data.