October 26, 2010

Healthcare links

The pros and cons of ER posting wait times
A bit more in depth, but along the same lines of my earlier post here.
So these break down along the lines of people may be stupid and caregivers may be given bad incentives.  On the former, the concern is that people will opt for long drives or stay home because they are overly sensitive to waits. While I generally believe that it is never good to underestimate stupidity, this seems a bit much. As I said above, I am not sure that I would think to look at a Twitter feed when faced with a medical emergency. That is certainly clear if the emergency involved, say, chest pains. This really is about sprained vs broken ankles so this concern seems overstated.
 Operations Management at the Dr.'s Office
What is interesting is that a number of the approaches the article highlights are pretty basic recommendations from the OM tool box. For example, shifting work to less expensive staff (e.g., having nurses give flu shots) is simply moving work from the bottleneck to less constrained resources. Having patients complete registration before arriving at the clinic or reducing unnecessary follow ups are examples of moving activities off the critical path or eliminating non-value added work
 Vaccines – producing more by starting sooner
The idea behind the new technology is to do some pre-processing. Novartis will “develop a bank of synthetically constructed seed viruses ready to go into production as soon as the WHO identifies the flu strains”. In short, they will artificially create a bunch of potential viruses in the hope that one of them will turn out to be the useful one for production.
What will this extra time give them? The biggest advantage seems to be additional capacity. If a facility can make X doses per week, then adding 4 weeks to the schedule means 4x more doses for the season, pretty much with the same overhead as before.

No Company Can Rest on Previous Reputation for Quality and Responsiveness

 Johnson & Johnson's recent battle with quality issues:
J&J and its McNeill unit has had a rather difficult two years, and a sweeping look at all manufacturing and perhaps supply chain processes is the right move.  An overall revamping of all manufacturing operations is underway, including a new czar of manufacturing with an associated task team with sweeping organizational powers across all of J&J’s operating groups. The FDA also indicates that J&J faces additional close scrutiny and inspection by that agency. But the damage remains in millions of lost sales to date, over $100 million to upgrade McNeill’s plants, and uncertain consumer perceptions regarding brands.

Yet another well-run company with a stellar reputation for quality could not overcome a series of multiple back-to-back incidents relating to its process design and quality control processes. A compounding slow response and untimely or ineffective response by senior management was also evident.
 Annoying Dentists or The irrational way we interact with Dentists
 Dentistry is basically the unpleasant experience. They poke in your mouth. It's uncomfortable. It's painful. It's unpleasant. You have to keep your mouth open. And I think all of this pain actually causes cognitive dissonance - and cause higher loyalty to your dentist. Because who wants to go through this pain and say, I'm not sure if I did it for the right reason. I'm not sure this is the right guy.
 So you can imagine that at some point in your dental treatment, you have a choice between things that have the same possible outcome, but one of them is more expensive to you and better financially for the dentist. Which one would you choose, and how the duration of relationship be affecting that?
And it turns out that the more time people have seen the same dentist, the more likely the decision is going to go in favor of the dentist. People are going to go for the treatment that is more expensive but has the same outcome. More out of pocket for them, more money for the doctor. So in this case, loyalty actually creates more benefit for the dentists.

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