Saturday, August 09, 2008

Small Wonder

In recent news articles reporting the retirement of Bill Gates as CEO of Microsoft, it was mentioned that IBM introduced its first PC in 1981.

Of course, there were computers before there were PCs. But PCs were what made computers personal appliances available to everyone rather than esoteric devices usable only by a sophisticated few.

So I think it safe to say that except for computer science majors, students who graduated from college before 1980 did so without benefit of any significant exposure to computers. Those who went into management went to work for executives who had no experience in using computers as management tools.

It seems safe to assume that most of the senior executives of our health care institutions are at least 50 years old.

If the typical college graduate is 22 years old, then most people who graduated before 1980 are now at or above 50 years of age.

The result is that our health care delivery system is currently being led by a generation of executives whose experience with computers is limited to e-mail and perhaps some word processing and internet surfing. They have not during their careers personally used computers to improve the operations they were managing.

Add to that the fact that the health care managers of that generation are not as a rule operationally oriented. The basic operations of health care institutions is the care of patients – something that wise managers have stayed out of, deferring instead to the doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.

Small wonder, then, that the health care field has experienced so much difficulty in adopting computer technology.

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