Praying for Efficiency and Paying in Naivety

A key aspect of a project manager’s job description is to improve efficiency; this post discusses how, while upgrading new technology has its many benefits, it must be done with thoughtful care to ensure it does not have a negative reaction.

As technology continually improves, electronic records are increasing in nature; I still remember checking in to my dentist on a notepad and having to visit a kiosk in the airport to check into my flight whereas now both of these are done through a computer and in some instances – remotely.  Efficiency is abundantly salient. Rather than causing a backlash of lines, checking into a flight can be done before even arriving at the airport. This moves the consumer quickly and thus allows a greater amount of flights to further drive revenue (i.e. the faster the airport can move people onto the plane, the more planes they can fly in and out of the airport). Updating records and improving technology is not invariable to improved efficiency, however. Without proper consideration for implementation there can be an opposite end-reaction. One need not look farther than patient records to clearly observe an example of records slowing the process.

The change in record keeping changed the way the hospital staff communicates on a fundamental level. This attempted to fix something that was not broken and, “clogged up a well oiled machine”. When electronic records were first implemented it was shown to increase physicians data entry time and decrease time with patients: hardly a beneficial result. This led to a patient’s data entry to be delegated and further studies to be conducted focusing on efficiency with regards to an improved delegation. What was found was in larger practices there was an improved efficiency (assuming an increase in delegations from physicians to nurses), but in smaller practices there was, again, a negative result.

While electronic record keeping has its benefits through increased accuracy and interoperability across multiple systems, it must be carefully integrated. There was a class example in week one about Starbucks improving efficiency from an operations standpoint by not requiring signatures on nominal purchases. Updating records to an electronic format is just another example of operations trying to increase efficiency for both the end consumer and the entity.

An interesting caveat that is more imminent and pressing is the recent mishap of ebola in Dallas. Doctors blame their electronic record keeping systems as the reason the patient was sent home before becoming symptomatic and readmitted. Doctoral error is now a more frequent cause of death than car crashes. This further highlights just how catastrophic negative efficiency results can be.


How do you feel about upgrading to electronic records?

Do you think these records were implemented too soon in hospitals?

Do you feel as though communication breakdowns in hospitals is a real concern?



One thought on “Praying for Efficiency and Paying in Naivety

  1. While I am a fan of keeping electronic records, I think that there should be a backup plan. I get it. Technology will help and make the process of whatever it is that you are making easier and it can cut back on so many expenses like labor but in the end we have all heard of computers going on and then what? what if the computer or drive that has all the data can’t be fixed? That’s a big problem.

    I actually happen to have a good example of this and it’s the owner of a dealer who my family does business with:
    He has been the owner of this dealership for quite some time now. Over the years, he has kept paper files and accounts for his customers because he decided to do “in-home” financing (so customers could pay a lower interest rate on loans). He then decided to jump on board with the technology that was available and used a computer for his records. What he never thought would happen…actually happened. His computer decided to go out and there was no fixing it or retrieving the information. In the end, up to this day, he is basing his payments of his clients on pure “good will”. In other words, whatever the customer pays him a month, he takes and doesn’t ask questions because he lost all record of payments and dates as well as subtotals.

    I felt bad for him because I’m sure he lost a lot of money there but he learned a valuable lesson: Have a backup plan.

    Hope this was a good example of what happens when you go completely digital.

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