Much has been written about the need to improve productivity in Canada and we all agree that improved productivity is a good idea as it means producing more with fewer resources. This is supposed to lead to lower prices, better profits and all sorts of other good things. However, while the productivity improvement mantra makes sense in manufacturing where widgets are the output, I think we need a different mantra for the service industry (both profit and not for profit) where people are the throughput. Recent experiences in the health system have been illuminating as it seems that the increased use of technology has actually created an explosion of data that must be created, processed, and then acted on for each patient. Not only are the machines extremely costly but they require highly skilled (and hence expensive) human resources to run them and analyse the results. And this is before the really expensive resources who have to act on the results get involved. Add to that the need keep anxious patients informed in words they can understand as well as managing them through a complex series of tests, treatments, and recovery regimes. It’s not cheap, it may not always be efficient but it means good jobs for Canadians and better healthcare than we have ever had before: evidence-informed, technology supported, and humanely delivered. Are we willing to pay for this superior product? I am.
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