Data is essential to any organization. In today’s society, computers and technology are crucial to the seamless operation of our daily tasks and unparalleled efficiency. Without data, there would be no way of being certain as to what patient was diagnosed with a certain illness or which patient needed medication at the predetermined time. This data can be presented in many forms. Historically, paper was the chosen form because word of mouth had the potential to cause things to become lost in translation and the pen/paper method would ensure that the words written were actually those being delivered. However, now that there are many patients to treat in what seems to be a shorter amount of time, there is a need for a more sophisticated system that will adapt to increasing both the cost effectiveness of today’s economy and the general population of those who are served in the medical community. This paper will focus on four different types of data models that have helped our society and their advantages as well as disadvantages.
The first type of model introduced to the mainstream community was the hierarchical data model referred to as the Information Management System (or IMS). This was shortly followed by the network data model, which strived to standardize the various languages that are used to program a computer for the retrieval of various data input (Coronel). Although these two types of data models were quite innovative in their concepts, their practical usage was less than stellar. When comparing the first two types, both contained an abundance of complex programs that were needed to answer the simplest of questions. Also, the models were not independent in terms of usage. They relied heavily on an actual person programming every aspect of their functional relations in order to perform whatever output they had the ability to generate (Coronel). While these systems were great for what they could offer the community during their particular time period, looking back, it is easy to see what focal points could have made the systems much more user friendly and helped to mainstream healthcare even more.
While the first two models were in widespread use and receiving both positive and negative feedback from the entire technology community, Relational database management systems were in development (RDBMS). These systems were used in the 1980s and 1990s almost exclusively because they were on the cusp of technological innovation, but still were limited in their response to more complex needs of certain data applications (Coronel). This applied to larger corporations who had a need for many data processes to operate at one time.
The two newest data models then emerged. These were the Object-Relational Database Management Systems (ORDBMS) and the OODBMS (Object-Oriented Database Management Systems). The latter two data models represent the third generation of data systems (Coronel). They have far distributing databases and can replicate the central database at all remote locations. This is a huge win for technology, especially along the lines of data models.
With distributed databases, the largest part of the database is housed in one physical location and smaller portions of the database can be placed remotely in various other parts of a building (White, 2008). This can be structured so that the remote portion contains the necessary information to only serve its immediate area and all information may be processed in batches to the central housed portion on a daily basis. A different concept with this particular type of model is that the central portion is actually replicated in every remote location and all locations have the ability to ‘see’ the information housed by the main data processor. There would still be a daily batch backup in either situation.
The major advantage of a distributed system is that there is less vulnerability because of the replicates housed in various remote locations (Coronel). Therefore, if the central location is tampered with, it may not cause such wide scale effects as if one of the older models had been altered. However, a disadvantage is that they are highly dependent on telecommunication lines, such as telephone cables or fiber optics, and this can be expensive over a long period of time (White, 2008). These lines may also be vulnerable to hackers.
With the most current data model, the object oriented, there is a technology available that has not been previously used before in data systems (Rappa, 2010). The system has the ability to actually search and manipulate various data about different objects, even those with their own complex data structures. In this particular model, an object is stored. This object holds data about the patient, organization, or subject (White, 2008). It also holds the different methods that are used to process the required data. It is quite complex in the fact that there is actually a collection of data and objects holding the data together inside of the system. This all may be manipulated through the data model by the user through the use of a data program designed specifically for that purpose. The advantage of this new model is that it is highly technological in intelligence, but this is also its disadvantage. Not everyone is going to understand the concept, much less how to utilize this information. Therefore, this particular model is only used in certain situations by professionals who are well versed in data applications and understand the complex process therein.
Importance of Data Models
Although there are now several data models available, it is important for the business or organization in question to choose the needed model carefully (Rappa, 2010). Because each of these models has its advantages and disadvantages, it is essential that the person choosing the particular type of model do so with the needs of the organization in mind. What does the organization hope to gain from the use of this data model? This is the most important question to ask. If a business or organization does not have a need for complex applications or several remote destinations, there is no need for one of the newest models and one of the older applications will most likely suffice. Simply because the older models are older does not mean they are worthless. The latter three models are still in relatively good standing in the technology community and are in widespread use today.
Data models and computer systems are an ever evolving circle of technology that will progressively help our daily lives in many facets. This includes fields such as healthcare, education, engineering, and countless other aspects. Computers and database management are here to stay and will only grow more complex as the needs of society increase and become more demanding. We will see technology grow and adapt to help with more effective time management, productivity, less error on the part of patient care, and increased accuracy in relation to several key focal points in all of our lives.
Coronel, C. (n.d.). Database systems: Design, implementation, and management. Cengage Learning.
Rappa, M. (2010). Business models on the web. Retrieved from Managing the digital enterprise: http://digitalenterprise.org/models/models.html
White, K. (2008, October 1). DBMS past, present, and future. Retrieved from Information Week: http://www.informationweek.com/development/database/dbms-past-present-and-future/229209559