Communication is an essential part of management which determines the failure or the success of an organization. Without communication, organizations are prone to failure. Information transfer between departments in an organization and the workers of that organization is highly essential for continued cooperation in an organization (Miller & Roger, 113). More so, communication between an organization and its customers a key factor as information necessary for the services and even products to be delivered. In the service industry, reliable information is the main determinant of the reliability and availability of the services required by the customers. It is, therefore, important that reliable data collection methods and information reliance be maintained by the organization which is of service to the customers. More importantly, medical service data and information should be held with much more consideration due to the importance it carries with individuals' life. Medical service providers must, therefore, take communication with much more seriousness to enhance their service delivery at any one point. In this essay, I will focus on the various aspects of communication and how they were manifested in the failure of Veteran Affairs Corporation providing health services to the war veterans. Later on, I will comment on some of the probable communication solutions which would have led to the correction of the problem.
Proper and reliable communication is characterized by various metrics which determine the usefulness and utility of this information. Some of these metrics or measures are communication load, rate, and complexity. They determine the importance of the information or message and its possible utility for processing. Communication load is the amount of information that one must process at any one time while in a given organization network as characterized by the rate and complexity of the information. Communication load is categorized as either underload or overload. Communication overload occurs in a situation where an individual or a system receives so much information for a short period which can lead to some information being left unprocessed (Clampitt & Phillip, 46). This can also occur in a situation where one receives highly complex information which he/she is unable to process. On the other hand, communication under load occurs when one receives information, messages or inputs which are below the individual's ability and capacity to process (Miller & Roger, 65). When there is overload or under-load, an individual or a system is unable to process the information which leads to dissatisfaction of the customers as information processing leads to failed services. The rate (communication rate) refers to the amount of messages received at any one time for processing. The complexity of the message refers to the number or amount of items that must be dealt with in processing a given set of information.
Veteran Administration scandals are one of the most recent events which illustrated the high level of communication irregularities with adverse effects which even resulted in the death of more than 40,000 veterans. Veteran Affairs (VA) hospitals have in the past experienced the high level of mismanagement which was caused by lack of proper communication (Clampitt & Phillip, 213). The main problem which raised the high level of mismanagement has been poor patient scheduling procedures which highly tampered with caused a systematic problem in the whole corporation. Veterans Administration's problem sparked from failure in the conveyance of the proper and reliable information to the customers who have been war veterans in in various wars which include Iran, Afghanistan among others. The communication failure in VA Administration will be analyzed through the specific measures of communication which are rate, complexity and load (overload and under load).
Communication overload as discussed earlier in this essay is one of the factors which lead to a wrong conveyance of the messages which hence leads to mismanagement in an organization (Miller & Roger, 98). It is characterized by the large quantity of messages given within a very short time and numerous items and procedures to be considered and dealt with in processing information. Since the audit reviews in the 1990s which saw the corporation experience communication failure have ever remained in the same position due to the overload problem which has since maintained the status quo in the corporation. For example, due to the highly bureaucratic organizational structure leading to the complexity of the information, decision making on how to reform the administration and adopt new communication technologies and software have ever failed. Reliable information in organization administrative should result in utilizable decisions implementation for the improvement of service delivery in an organization.
However, in the Veteran Affairs case, bureaucracy remained the main hindrance due to the various communication interferences which can be termed as communication complexity. In the case of VA Administration, the rate of communication became a problem due to piling up of messages which would have been processed in time, but the system failed. Delayed patient-schedule procedures and falsified wait-time were the results of high rates and complexity of information which was due to inefficient technology high bureaucracy which hindered the flow of reliable information. The customer service center became highly inefficient also due to uncertain information given from various senior officers. In the case study, we see that more than 10% of the scheduling staffs were given instructions on how to alter patient appointments scheduling according to the convenience of the senior officers. This probably resulted to piling up of unexpected messages in their offices and hence the high level of delayed services. Some of other causes of communication overload came from probable interruption and ties with the political class which included the Congress, Senate, and the White House. This interference made the situation even more difficult to handle. This is evident as we see many of the senior officials confess that the problem in the company is a systematic problem which may not be solved. More so, they say that they thought it was possible to solve the problem during their employment, but as time went, the situation seemed tougher probably due to lack of access to the best information (Clampitt & Phillip, 354).
On the other side, under-load communication is the other factor which led to the Veteran Administration scandal. This is where information conveyed or passed to the recipient is lacking in quantity, quality, and reliability. This means that the communication did not have the quantity necessary for processing, and probably the items to be communicated for processing and introducing change in the organization may have lacked and hence the status quo for the long period. Firstly, communication to the families of the veterans and the veterans themselves lacked in all manner. This quantity of messages (rate) was highly lacking in that the customer service communicated the falsified message about the appointment schedule which ended up being waited for so long and even unto death. The message communicated was also lacking in that Veteran Affairs offices could not give information on the date and availability of the service as requested by the veterans. This led to ultimate lack of attendance to the medical issues of the veterans. Lastly, the message communicated by the government and the administration of the VA lacked in complexity and hence would not be utilized by the Administration in introducing reliable changes.
Particular problems in VA administration
The only thing that came out this year with VA administration is the product of what have been contained in the corporation for many years. These were the outcomes of what has been blended in the organization since the discovery of the misconducts in the 1990s. VA administration has since failed both internally and externally. The poor communication skills and technology now shows the filth and the mess that has happened in the organization. Firstly, since the 1990s, VA Corporation has failed in adopting advanced technology which would handle information and messages in a reliable manner. VA have continuously insisted on using the VA’s scheduling procedure, a software which was inaugurated by Steve Jobs in 1984 and which have been prone to alteration of the basic things (Critchlow, Donald & Philip, 89). This system has been one of the many problems in the VA where issues like patients request to visit are altered by the employees. Also due to the complexity of the messages to be processed for the veterans all over the country and also to be retrieved from all the systems, the system fails to oversee individuals VA medical systems. The coordination of these systems, therefore, becomes highly complex to be run on these systems.
Secondly, VA administration and review authorities failed terribly assessing the services level rendered to the customers. Through this and lack of oversight means lead to delayed actions due to lack of communication and information on the level of performance and compliance standards. This can be referred to communication under-load which led to mismanagement. The results of the poor and falsified communication led to the piling up of unprocessed messages and unhandled cases. More so, this led to delayed wait-time for the patients leading to the high mortality rate of the veterans. Due to the case of message complexity, overload, and underload of messages, the number of unattended veterans rose to 60,000 veterans while 70% of the facilities were said to use alternative official appointments (Critchlow, Donald & Philip, 89). Additionally, the Veteran Affairs Corporation was sited to have corrosive culture, poor budgeting, and inadequate planning all as a result of poor management of communication systems.
Recommendations in the Cleveland Clinic
Given the current position of Cleveland Clinic and the many clients being served by the clinic, communication is an essential part of the management. To avoid such kind of scandals in Cleveland Clinic, various steps must be adopted in the management of the company. Firstly, advancement in technology should not be overlooked, and the organization should adopt technologies which can be able to handle data an organized way and software which gives no opportunity to tamper with data. Messages sent and received at any one time should contain reliable and utilizable information. The systems used and the individuals in the system should also be in a position to handle organization messages. Secondly, the management should ensure that appointments are met as scheduled and that nothing should tamper with the appointments at any one given time. Third, for any decision to be made by the management there should be enough information of the required rate and complexity avoids situations where there is either communication overload or under-load. Fourthly, to enhance decision making and enhance positive changes, the management must eliminate all forms of bureaucracies in conveying messages and making decisions. There should be clear end-to-end visibility for medical decisions to be made to the patient's satisfaction. Public relations, as well as customer service departments, should ensure accountability and convenience in relying on the message through proper communication.
In conclusion, communication in an organization plays a significant role in ensuring the success of any organization. Proper, reliable and utilizable messages communicated in the best way and time ensures success in a business. On the other hand, poor communication leads to organization failure. Communication should, therefore, be held to high importance by all the departments and more so in the medical organization.
Clampitt, Phillip G. Communicating for Managerial Effectiveness. Newbury Park [etc.: Sage Publications, 1991. Print.
Critchlow, Donald T, and Philip R. VanderMeer. The Oxford Encyclopedia' of America Political and Legal History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
Miller, M, and Roger E. Williams. Human Communication: Concepts, Principals, and Skills. East Lansing, Mich: Dept. of Communications, Michigan State University, 1973. Print.