Monday, December 14, 2009

Capturing Employee Ideas: The CDC IdeaLab

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is a large government agency with 14,000 full-time, part-time, and contract employees. While headquartered in Atlanta, the CDC has a large geographically dispersed workforce working in 19 facilities across the United States and 54 countries around the globe. Since many the CDC's employees are isolated geographically, the processes of collaboration, communication, and sharing information efficiently and effectively are challenging.

The solution to their challenge is what they call the IdeaLab. IdeaLab is a web-based application which CDC employees are encouraged to use to post their ideas, comment on others’ posts, and vote on the quality of the posts and comments. Submissions are attributed and authenticated in real time. Ideas are categorized according to CDC organizational goals, and related ideas are affinity-grouped using tag clouds.

A weekly “Bright Idea” highlights a submission that has broad agency interest across multiple national centers and offices. All communications are stored in a searchable archive that anyone at CDC can review at anytime. IdeaLab enables CDC employees to "use their insights and experiences to help colleagues build and implement high-impact solutions to important public health challenges."

The CDC hopes that the IdeaLab will:
  • Increase connectivity of CDC employees who support multidisciplinary, evidence-based solutions
  • Promote scientific crowd-sourcing and peer-2-peer networking to build ideas, enable virtual piloting and refinement of ideas, and foster rapid implementation and adoption of the best ideas
  • Foster retention and sharing of institutional memory
  • Improve interactions among networks of knowledge
  • Improve orientation for and assimilation by new employees
  • Accelerate health impacts by increasing employee-driven innovation and improving organizational efficiency
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Monday, December 07, 2009

Harvard: Computers in Hospitals Do Not Reduce Administrative or Overall Costs

ResearchBlogging.orgHarvard researchers recently released the study Hospital Computing and the Costs and Quality of Care: A National Study, which examined computerization’s cost and quality impacts at 4,000 hospitals in the U.S over a four-year period.

The researchers concluded that the immense cost of installing and running hospital IT systems is greater than any expected cost savings. Much of the software being written for use in clinics is aimed at administrators, not doctors, nurses and lab workers. Additionally, as currently implemented, hospital computing might modestly improve process measures of quality but does not reduce administrative or overall costs.

The researchers also found no reliable data support claims of cost savings or dramatic quality improvement from electronic medical records.

The researchers did acknowledge that the modest quality advantages associated with computerization were difficult to interpret since the quality scores reflect processes of care rather than outcomes. Access to more information technology may merely improve scores without actually improving care by facilitating documentation of allowable exceptions.

From the paper:
"We used a variety of analytic strategies to search for evidence that computerization might be cost-saving. In cross-sectional analyses, we examined whether more computerized hospitals had lower costs or more efficient administration in any of the 5 years. We also looked for lagged effects, that is, whether cost-savings might emerge after the implementation of computerized systems. We looked for subgroups of computer applications, as well as individual applications, that might result in savings. None of these hypotheses were borne out. Even the select group of hospitals at the cutting edge of computerization showed neither cost nor efficiency advantages. Our longitudinal analysis suggests that computerization may actually increase administrative costs, at least in the near term."
Himmelstein, D., Wright, A., & Woolhandler, S. (2009). Hospital Computing and the Costs and Quality of Care: A National Study The American Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.09.004 Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What Technology? Reflections on Evolving Services EDUCAUSE Report

I just finished reading What Technology? Reflections on Evolving Services, a report from Sharon Collins and the 2009 EDUCAUSE Evolving Technologies Committee. For the first time, Information resource management technologies for libraries were featured as an evolving technology.

From the report:
"The increasing primacy of highly distributed digital resources has brought disruptive change to the way libraries must approach their work to remain relevant to their parent organizations and constituencies."

"Organizing content to support research and learning is at the heart of the library's institutional role. Once limited to applying subject terms, co-locating physical materials, and producing research guides, this role has been changed by the volume and variety of online resources, which require new tools to more effectively meet the needs of users. A growing collection of technologies and tools can be used to more granularly organize, customize, and personalize the online information environment to fit professional, learning, and research activities."

"These technologies are evolving away from being strictly stand-alone tools and resources and are converging into a more interoperable, collaborative, enterprise-level information management environment — one more closely integrated with teaching, learning, research, and administrative systems. Underlying system architectures are focusing more on providing discrete services (service-oriented architecture) rather than monolithic systems, enabling more interoperable and customizable workflows."

"By combining discrete services with cloud storage and cloud-enabled applications, institutions can build collaborative work environments between libraries as well as between libraries and non-library units, both on and off their home campuses, for discovering, acquiring, describing, and managing all types of resources. Layered over this enterprise-level resource management environment, information discovery and management tools are providing individuals and workgroups with much more intuitive and productive ways to discover, manipulate, incorporate, and share information for teaching, learning, and research, allowing users to shift time from the mechanics of managing specific resources to a focus on analyzing the information itself."
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