The Cost of Better Information

Many well-intentioned IT pros assume that the basic problem of management is lack of better information. If you’re in the business of building information systems, better often implies more, and better¬†certainly¬†implies sooner.

Here’s a news article about the side-effects of giving ubiquitous medical information access to medical professionals. We’ve created a beautiful map of you, and it’s tempting for doctors and nurses to conflate the medical map of you with the the real you.

That information instruments introduce distortion is a fact we’ll have to live with. But we should learn how to build systems that reflect an awareness of that fact. iPads and the like are not going away. We can’t actually stop texting by banning it. The only hope we have of designing systems that are actually better is by understanding what we’ve got now. In the case of medical care, the ideal state is one of trusting relationship between a patient and a provider. At least, that’s what I want as a patient.

Better information is not necessarily more, or timelier, information. Better information is better only if it improves the relationship between patient and provider.

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