I am often amazed when I speak to healthcare organizations large and small that are using embarassingly outdated communications. The remarkable thing is that more often than not, it seems like this is one of those things that everyone at the organization just shakes their head and shrugs their shoulders about, like "what can you do?!?" My hypothesis is that the missing link here is they don't realize how easy it is to bring communication into this millenium.
One of the things I hear so often it doesn't surprise me any more is organizations are incredibly reliant on shared drives, but everyone has come to accept over time that you can't ever find anything, so they have created their own workarounds and avoid actually using the shared drives at all costs. Part of the problem seems to be that folks have to know where to find what they're looking for, which is not exactly always an intuitive thing. Attitudes toward this remind me of the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." It seems that many organizations have given up and accepted antiquated communication, thinking it is something they cannot change. BUT THEY CAN!
Another scenario that comes up a lot is a hospital that has an "intranet" which was built by IT. In the scenario I'm thinking of here, what usually has happened is that someone years ago set up a page with HTML and gradually over time, with no strategy or governance, as various departments have asked for new things, the IT guy has dutifully added exactly what everyone has asked for. Unfortunately, what has happened over the years is that this has morphed into what I can only describe as web dreadlocks.
The harrowing thing here is that the two scenarios I described above are actually the best case scenarios of these communication-challenged organizations, exasperated with their morse code of internal communications. There are countless other organizations that use payroll stuffers as their primary method of announcing things to staff. The amount of paper floating around hospitals never ceases to amaze me. More amazing still is the fact that it doesn't seem like that paper is going anywhere any time soon. There are countless other just plain scary outdated methods of communication that continue to go on in hospitals today, but these are a few of the most common ones I hear about on a daily basis. I am pleased to say I have yet to come across a hospital still using microfiche. If you don't know what that is, enjoy your youth and don't worry, I'm sure it will be in the Smithsonian as a relic one day along with 8 track tapes and typewriters.
Back to my bewilderment over HOW it can be that this smoke signal style communication is so widespread. All I can guess is that not only do these organizations not realize how easy it can be to take the leap and move to current communication tools, they aren't aware of what the latest and greatest tools are and do. It reminds me of when I asked a mom who was coordinating a group of volunteers why she didn't use Sign Up Genius to automate the process of assigning volunteers to tasks, it was as if I were speaking Greek to her. Her eyes widened with wonder and disbelief, but the eventual response was "Ahhh, all these new-fangled things--who knows what do with them?!" One day maybe she will see the light.
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Has your healthcare organization seen the light? Please share your experiences and ideas.