Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Efficiency, Value, And Unexpected Consequences

I bounded down the stairs of my office to the cafe on the first floor of the hospital owned building.  I could taste the early morning coffee before it even touched my lips.  I charged right to the front of the line, and handed over my credit card. Already familiar with my order, she swiped away and handed it back to me.  A few steps later, I was standing at the coffee station.

Something was strangely wrong.  The cascade of various sized cups was still resting by the beverage dispenser, but the sugar was all the way on the other side of the counter.  I shuffled over to get a few packets (which is always my first step).  I shook vigorously, than tore off the tops of three at once.  I gently shook downwards and waited.

Then it hit me.  The little hole in the granite for trash was gone, or at least covered up.  I crinkled the waste in my hand and secured it between my pinkie and ring finger.  Unperturbed, I reached my arm out for the half and half to no avail.  It took a few seconds of searching to realize that it was across the room in the refrigerated section.  I carried my cup in my left hand, my trash in my right, and paused as I tried to figure where to set my cup to pour from the decanter.  There was no flat surface.

Finally I walked back to the coffee station and pumped the nozzle.  Later, I fumbled with the sleeve which was stored in a particularly awkward place, and spilled my coffee on the counter when I reached up to grab the stir.  Lastly, I collected all the trash and walked around the corner to throw it away.

Thoroughly discombobulated, I sauntered back to the register and caught the woman's attention.

Who messed up the coffee station?

She stared at me for a moment, and then peered cautiously over both shoulders before speaking.

The hospital sent some kind of efficiency expert over yesterday.  He changed everything.

Although nonfunctional, apparently the display now looked more appetizing.  Plus, by making the cream and sugar less accessible, the cafe was expected to save thousands of dollars in supplies.  Ditto for the awkward placement of the stirs and cup sleeves.

As I walked towards the stairs, I looked one last time at the my beloved coffee station.  Trash had collected on the counter because there was no where to dispose of it.  Puddles of liquid had accumulated from knocked over drinks.  And a line of people had formed at the register, waiting for the poor employee who had left her counter to clean up the now unkemt beverage area.

I shook my head. I figured any money saved on sugar and cream was being lost on cleaning supplies and wasted napkins.

I settled into my morning routine, but couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong.  I sipped on my coffee and enjoyed the pleasant taste and woody aroma.  I was seriously thinking of going to Starbucks next time instead.

I entered the exam room to find my first patient anxiously clenching the exam table.  Before I could open the chart, he began to sputter.

Doc, my chest is really hurting!

I half listened to his complaint through the fog of my disruptive EMR.  When I went to open his chart, an annoying pop up window wouldn't let me proceed.  I cursed my front desk employees for failing to follow the meaningful use questionnaire, and interrupted the patient as he was repeating himself in an even more forceful manner.

I'm sorry, I have to fill out this field before I am allowed to continue.  Could you just answer one quick question?

What race do you consider yourself?


Mike Gamble said...

Unbelievable, on both counts!

Unfortunately, they are but two examples of the meaningless trivia that is suffocating innovation in our society. The Chinese must love our stupidity.

Unknown said...

This would be funny except it is so true.