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Process Follows People

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No industry should be more focused on the well-being of people than healthcare. According to one study however, many healthcare organizations are over-emphasizing process and technology to the detriment of workers.

A press release reviewed the key findings:

Nearly two-thirds of those questioned agreed that technology solutions should be kept simple, but 40% lamented the complexity of the technology they were using. More than 70% were unsure of the ongoing cost of device failures. Yet, the high cost of mobile devices, along with their proneness to theft, loss and damage, were identified as major barriers to their effective use by more than half the respondents.


© Flickr user glenmcbethlaw

We all want our lives to be simple. Excessively complicated computerized systems at the hospital should give us pause.  In fact, a 2005 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that although prescription order-entry systems were designed to reduce deadly errors, they in fact introduce a whole new category of problems due to design issues. Perhaps the original eHealthServer press release described this issue most effectively in their lead:

Healthcare organizations are throwing mobile technology at problems without fully considering the underlying business processes or the working conditions of the end-user.

Although businesses, non-profits and government organizations must have advanced software tools and robust processes to perform daily functions, the people who make use of these tools remain the most important component of the overall system. At Slaughter Development, we prefer the term stakeholders to describe the human beings involved, whether they are clients, employees, managers or owners. This word clarifies the primary function of people in an organization: ownership. When we conceptualize workers as doing more than work, perhaps as the caretakers of particular responsibilities and authorities, we begin to see how much more important people are in comparison to process or technology.

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