I’ve posted about the Productivity Curse before, but recently had another conversation with a Healthcare clinician who is sick of the pressures and unrealistic expectations of complying with insurance regulations. She told me about treating a terminal cancer patient whose insurance company had authorized both Physical and Occupational Therapy, but mandates that this poor patient, competed an hour of each every day – unless this goal was met, the insurance company would not approve payments for any therapy. As the clinician pointed out – even a healthy person would find it difficult to do 2 hours of exercise every day! The Skilled Nursing facility needed the OT and PT revenue and the treatment had to take place regardless of how the patient was feeling.


What seems to have happened in every industry where productivity has taken over as the most important business criteria is that regard for human well-being is a distant second criteria. The fact that this has happened in Healthcare is alarming, to say the least.


Often businesses run on efficiency models first formulated for manufacturing. I’m primarily thinking of the Six Sigma philosophy that seems to have spread like a virus through every kind of industry. It’s one thing to find ways to turn out more widgets from a factory conveyor belt, but to apply these management philosophies to the care of human beings seems, well, inhumane.


Am I wrong in thinking businesses should put Human beings first and profits second? Can we ever reverse this trend? What do you think?