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When Paper is the Best Technology

Picking up where we last left off

You know that I'm a huge proponent of using electronic technology instead of paper to improve process efficiency and collaboration. But recent experiences with various eldercare institutions have again reminded me that sometimes the best technologies are no technologies at all.

Physician, Heal Thyself

The particular use cases I am talking about involve getting particular pieces of contact and care information to stick in my father's medical chart. Procedures are scheduled but I am not notified; doctors' orders are written but nurses don't know about them. And each time I call to rectify the situation, I am told "I will put it in his chart so this doesn't happen again."

Well, guess what I learned the other day? His chart is electronic. You would think this would make everybody's job easier, but it doesn't. What they really need is a simple yellow sticky note that they can scribble on and tape to the inside of the case folder. But what they have is fancy new technology that makes it well-nigh impossible to add or access such a thing on the screen.

The result is a constant revisiting of the same issues, with different people all promising the same (ineffective) fix.

"Less Paper" Good, "Paperless" Maybe Not So Much

It's hard to tell whether the underlying cause is a lack of training, an absence of awareness, an underpowered system, or a simple dearth of creativity (how about we write things on the whiteboard in his room?). Whatever the case, it's another great reminder that there's plenty of room for paper in our future, and we shouldn't rush to eliminate it just because maybe we can.

Steve Weissman | 617-383-4655
- The Info Gov Guy™
- Member, AIIM Company of Fellows
- Co-Founder, Information Coalition
- Follow me on Twitter! @steveweissman


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