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Information: Use It!

| On 17, May 2011

In the same week in the Wall Street Journal, we see two interesting and diverse examples of how information can transform a major industry and a household hobby.

 

In hospitals, blood tests are routinely ordered by phsyicians who rarely ask about the cost. They are simply “passed on” to “somebody” (insurance companies, patients, government). In an interesting experiment at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, researchers, after developing an accurate baseline of daily per patient costs for two common blood tests, complete blood countand total chemistry panel. They then started a program with daily announcements to surgical staff, about the costs of the tests. Over an 11 week period, costs dropped from around $150/patient to about $110/patient. The experiment included no orders to change any tests. Total savings amounted to $55,000!

 

In their May 12 issue, the WSJ also reported on the impressive number of new sewing machines (yes, sewing machines!–sales up 22% in 2010 over 2009) that are using smart phone features such as smart screens, USB ports to transfer images, and sewing speeds up to 1100 stitches per minute. Part of the driving force here is cost savings to the consumer for high end dresses and embroidery.

 

So, information is the key to high quality in both healthcare and sewing machines. Here are the questions for you:

 

 

    1. What information do you wish you had? Is it available for breakthrough innovation? How can you access it? Make it accessible? How much could you save if you had it? A 30% reduction in blood test costs and sewing speeds going from under 100 to over 1000 stitches per minute are not incremental improvements!

 

  1. What information is your “system” (that includes your customers) generating that you are totally unaware of? What is involved in capturing and using it? What would be the impact?

 

You may have seen the new commercials from Progresive Insurance offering to discount your rates if you put a small camera in your car to observe your driving habits. Now there are privacy implications here, but the point in all these examples is that information, as it becomes cheaper to collect and disseminate, offers some breakthrough innovation possibilities