Answer to Question 2:
I believe that the decisions made during the exact time (or moment) of crisis is the best decision at that time. There are a lot of instances when we feel that the systems we have installed, both the software and the hardware are working perfectly and are serving our business needs. However, perfectly working systems are never commonplace. In the field of information technology, there is a very high risk for systems to fail. When these systems fail, it is often not a simple case, as failure in a tightly managed aspect of the business creates enormous consequences. While it is true in all cases that prevention is better than finding a cure, it is often difficult to predict everything that can possibly happen. Managers are of course doing everything they can to prevent incidences that disrupt business processes but predicting what could go wrong has never been possible. So an organization must address the preparedness issue by finding how best to react when failures happen. A business organization must develop the necessary approach based on the resources it has on hand when problems arises.
Erric Raffin of the VA acted on his own accord, seeing the situation at VA and understanding that the issues may get out of hand even more so. The decision of Erric Raffin not to fail to Denver was the correct one. While it is true that VA has adequate back-up and data storage facilities precisely because the organization found it prudent to establish these systems when crisis situations arises, the fact of the matter was that these back-up and storage infrastructures meant nothing because Erric Raffin was facing a situation wherein they had no importance (i.e. he said that the data being written in the back-up and storage drives were corrupted and therefore unusable). Erric Raffin must have known that having a back-up and storage system does not create very much of a safety net. For example, an article in 2008 on dependence of medical practitioners on electronic data stated that the safeguarding of the data in electronic form is essential. However, these medical professionals have learned that when data is lost because of some unforeseen issues, it is important to have a keen understanding of your practice. Knowing your practice, your patients and their situations is the best back up plan .
An alternative solution would be to consider outsourcing the data management process of VA. Instead of an in-house solution, VA could have acquired the services of an application service provider (ASP) which would manage VA’s voluminous data in a central, off-site location. The physicians that would require info as well as all the hospital business processes that would demand access to the info simply need to log in on the ASP’s site through the internet. Aside from security of the data, using an ASP also enables VA to place their highly sensitive information off the hands of non-expert hospital personnel. The standards for safeguarding VA’s information could be spelled out very clearly in legal agreements that could be promulgated by both parties. The ASP would also be responsible for ensuring proper data back-up and storage thereby also relieving VA from the task that is not a core activity to its business operations. The downside is of course the costs involved in acquiring the services of an ASP versus maintaining an in-house group to manage VA’s data. The cost of managing and protecting data is high but the cost of losing information and ultimately stopping business operations is higher both in tangible (i.e. revenues) and in intangible (i.e. reputation) terms. VA must however, get the as much value as it can from this arrangement, by requiring the ASP to provide a very high degree of reliability and dependability.
A second alternative, if VA considers maintain an in-house group for managing its data is to ensure that all possible requirements for data management are made avaialable. Erric knew that the problem could have been a software issue; hence he could have consulted a software specialist if one was available within the organizational structure of VA’s data management team. The case information made no mention of this personnel being available. If that is the case and if VA maintains an in-house team, then all possible areas of potential conflict must be addressed by finding the appropriate human talent to address them.
Answer to Question 3:
It would be very hard to remove interrelationships between business processes, physical infrastructure and software applications in this day and age. Everything now is interconnected and the advances in information technology and communication have made nearly all aspects of our life relating with one another in an unprecedented pace.
Organizations are not spared from the impetus of interconnection. The level of interconnection in business organizations vary depending on the nature of the organization, the requirement of their clients, the resources available to them and the overall direction the organization wishes to make. An organization may choose to have a high degree of interconnection, meaning that all pertinent information is shared within a managed network for the benefit of improving the performance of the organization as a whole. Big organizations require this kind of interconnection because of the volume of activities that they handle, the number of personnel in their employ, the volume of services or products they need to fulfil, and sometimes the overtly critical reaction they get from their clients. The downside of this high degree of interconnectivity is that, as we see in VA’s case, a failure in one aspect led to somewhat a disastrous happening.
The high degree of interconnection, when working, is helpful for clients. In proper working form, the high degree of interconnection enables physicians to address issues of a greater number of medical-aid-needing patients. Without the interconnected data management systems, it would have been very difficult for these physicians to keep track of their patient’s, their treatments and they statuses. The interconnection has resulted in a highly organized manner of service delivery, something that would be highly inefficient if not impossible, in a similar business organization whose business processes were not interrelated.
Patients also benefited from cost savings. Because of the high degree of efficiency, there is also a (presumably) higher degree of service quality. This means that patients would be receiving their treatments faster and the shortened treatment period results in lesser hospital bills and even lesser medication bills due to more effective diagnostics and follow-up consultations. All-in-all, the effect of interconnection provides an effective physician-patient platform that benefits both parties immensely.
Grey, D. (2013). The Connected Organization. Retrieved September 13, 2013, from Learn Extension: https://learn.extension.org/events/1096
Schackow, MD, PhD, E. T., Palmer, MD, T., & Epperly, MD, T. (2008). Family Practice Management. Family Practice Management, A3 - A8.