Manage Your Practice Psychology of Success The Business of Healthcare

Speak Truth to Numbers

November 9, 2015

Don’t get your medical group or healthcare business lost in big data.

Bureaucratic sorts are drawn to numbers because numbers can be gathered and processed and manipulated, all with the goal of lifetime employment for those bean counters.

I’m not saying that numbers aren’t important (like those following a dollar sign), but only that very little of what’s important for your success is capable of numerical measurement in any meaningful way.

Consider the advice of W. Edwards Deming, the man credited by the Japanese as revitalizing their manufacturing economy following World War II. A numbers and process man if there ever were one. Yet Deming said that over 97% of the events that affect a company’s results can’t be measured.

That leaves a mere less than 3% capable of measurement at all.

And, for those things that can be measured, what does their measurement mean?

To paraphrase H. Thomas Johnson, the professor and accounting historian, quantitative measures describe something, they do not explain anything.

Your success depends on a myriad of interpersonal relations, on hiring the right staff, on doing the right thing – the humanities side of business, not the bean counting side, not the easy side.

Why is such-and-such a measure for incentive payment? What does being in the 75% percentile mean? Does a medical staff satisfaction survey reveal what caused the satisfaction?

Don’t be seduced by numbers. The truth is that Peter Drucker never said “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Someone else made it up.

Don’t allow your performance to be measured by meaningless measurements.

Don’t manage by meaningless measurements.

Speak truth to numbers.

Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

Mark F. Weiss

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