Would You Choose People Or Programs?

Healthcare Purchasing News • Rose Rickrode

That is a very basic decision now facing Supply Chain Management across America.

And, it is not an easy decision to make. Both decisions have a price. However, is it so different from the choices many other businesses are faced with in today's technological world? For example, you see automation changes occurring in restaurants, often replacing waiters and waitresses, and even their cashiers.

The Supply Chain is no different, with efficient delivery robots and scanners replacing some personnel costs there. Time to face it: technology and automation are the future.

But, is the question about technology, or about the use of technological information? That is when you focus, and drill down to the real purpose of what needs to be achieved.

The Human Side Of Technology

In Value Analysis, the overall task to be achieved is to save, in many different ways. You can save financially, by purchasing smarter products at the best price. You can contract and deal with the suppliers. Processes can be adjusted and made more cost effective. Products and stock can be standardized, used more efficiently, and evaluated for best practices.

Would/Could these be achieved by using technology? Yes.

Would/Could these be achieved by using information and programs? Yes.

But, there is a caveat. Like all programs, information and technology need interpretation. By a human. For the human element lends a practicality and common-sense backbone to the whole scheme. No one wants to feel like a bank teller at an ATM Convention. To walk away and not get "change" is not the right thing to do. Stop and think: how, when, where and why were the automated bank machines developed? A personal, human touch is always needed -- not only in the physical sense, but in the realm of reason and rational responsibility.

Lately, several companies offer dataware that tote many dollars in cost-saving opportunities. There are endless reports to be had, computed in numerous configurations. Basically, you start with your most costly items, and work down.

However, things are often not as simple as they may seem. Contracts need to be remembered and reviewed. Analyze -- if you go in one direction with a company, does it lead you to having to do more? Who would be benefiting, and who would be utilizing? How would life be changed, and where? Human factors are the most important. Not so much for the practitoners and staff, but especially for the patients. People come to a healthcare facility for care, not products.

Another point to remember about the various programs -- they were developed using your information. It is like you taking your groceries to a restaurant where they cook the food for you, then sell it back to you. Of course it looks different than how you would have served it, and they used spices you wouldn't have thought of, but it is basically the same as what you gave them. Recognize the program for what it is: your stuff. You, as a person, need to learn how to deal with it, or get someone who can.


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