Streamlining processes to achieve increased productivity is a great strategy. AccelaWork should know since we are, after all, strong advocates of such a philosophy. But it’s important to realize that transitioning to new systems needs more than just innovation. Upgrading also takes time.
In a story printed in the Indianapolis Star (the story has since been removed from the site), a Web-based process known as the Indiana Death Registration System had taken electronic certificates to a whole new level. In effect as of Jan. 1, 2011, death certificates were electronic—signatures and all. Whereas funeral directors were once required to track down doctors for signatures, now all they need to do is login to the system with their four-digit PIN number and retrieve the signature electronically. Simple.
Yet, the system had one major, non-negotiable requirement: participation. When doctors failed to register in the system their signature is not available. Without the proper signature, death certificates could not be issued. And seeing as though only 5,000 out of the 25,000 physicians in the state are registered, one question comes to mind: What happens if a signature is not available?
Faith Martinez discovered the ill-effects of this exact scenario. Her husband, Robert Martinez, passed away on December 30, 2011. And though he died two days shy of the official implementation date, the Indiana Death Registration System was already in full swing. When it came time to retrieve his death certificate however, his family was turned down. They soon discovered his doctor had not registered in the system and was being tracked down to have him register. Sadly, eight days after Robert’s death the Martinez family was still waiting for the certificate. They had not yet been able to bury him and bid their farewell. Ultimately, the process took a full two weeks before Robert was able to be cremated. As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, that’s the last thing you want to be waiting on when it comes to such an already rough time in your life.
AccelaWork agrees that this system, which was integrated to speed up issuing of death certificates, will save on paper and improve the overall efficiency of the burial process, is certainly a worthwhile project. But, with only twenty percent of the required information gathered, we have to wonder why steps were not put into place to prevent issues such as the one above. Not only was the delay traumatic for the family, but it actually slowed the productivity of the funeral home and the issuing office. If nothing else, a grace period could have been established during the transition so as to accept both hard copy as well as electronic certificates.
When it comes to big ideas and implementing change, we must recognize that innovation and success take time. So until a new process works as it should, take the measures needed to ensure that quality and satisfaction remains. Clearly someone involved with this process didn’t foresee the problems that arose from the transition. If they had, then they certainly would’ve come up with something to make sure that such problems wouldn’t occur. By not stepping back and looking at the whole picture, at least one family had a problem that they shouldn’t have had to deal with. This one made the news, but who knows how many other similar situations inconvenienced families who had nothing to do with either the government process or the medical offices involved?
If you or your team are fast-forwarding through a process that perhaps needs more time to flourish, reach out to our consultants today. We can help integrate procedures that will properly assist and support an even larger initiative.