Archives for posts with tag: technology

Linkedin just had an article about the best places to work today. The usual suspects are listed: Google,  Facebook and Amazon and some newer, and surprising  ones to me,  Uber (lots of bad press and legal issues)  and Tesla (who makes no profits and may run out of money, not gas.)

But was really struck me was how few of the top companies even existed 25 let alone 10 years ago! The ones that remain have changed a lot: Time Warner (magazines to cable), JPMorgan (a dozen mergers later started as Chemical Bank) and Disney which looks like it may be around forever and never age like Mickey Mouse!

Fortune magazine had an article that stated that 88% of their 500 largest firms from the 1950’s are gone and predicted that 40% of today’s largest firms will be gone in 10 years.

Since I constantly advise graduates and young people where to work, this got me thinking. People used to get a job right out of college and then retire there 40 years later with a good pension. None of this is true today for millennials.

In my book, I stressed that as one moves up in their careers, they needed to study beforehand the leadership and culture of the next company they wanted to work for to try to gauge their personal fit and thus improve the chance to succeed. Now I believe that even graduates and young working people need to do this plus reading all they can about their targeted potential employer. What is their overall strategy, how sophisticated are they on technology and social media, are they well financed? And is their own business model sustainable or will they be the next industry subject to what we increasingly call disruptive innovation, like Uber to taxicabs?

Even though young graduates may work for a half dozen or more organizations in their career, they need to try to look down the road to try to figure out if their next employer will even be around! I believe this new group of millennials are better equipped and more comfortable, than my generation ever was, to research and analyze all the available, on-line information that now.  After all it is their future world. This may also be one of those few areas where most well meaning parents are just not able to help. Looking for your first job or your next job has always been difficult and in this rapidly changing world it just got harder!

“80% of hospitals embrace electronic records” USA Today 7/17/13.

These articles I find interesting, misleading and scary. When you read this you can hear our President or members of his staff talking about how shortly all our medical records will be electronic and transferable, everywhere and at any time.  This is a good concept and worthy of exploring since it could speed up care and reduce errors or excessive tests. Having been in charge of several large computer conversion programs and having managed large staffs of computer experts,  I will tell you this is not going to happen in most of our lifetimes!

The article, to be fair, says that hospitals “embrace” the concept of electronic records and have started to computerize  their records. The federal government has provided over 300,000 health care organizations with over $15 billion to help make this happen. Sounds like a lot of money but it is not. A simple average is $50,000 per health care provider. In the world of computer systems projects, this is literally a spit in the old medical bucket.

At both of the large public companies where I was the CFO, we undertook huge computer hardware and software projects. At USG Corporation, we installed, with the help of the consulting firm Accenture,  a new centralized, customer order entry system. This involved combining over 20 existing order centers, which used similar manual and computerized procedures, into one, brand new, custom designed software system. This took about a year, involved several hundred part and full time people and cost tens of millions of dollars (today it could run $100 million.) That was one system conversion for one company.

But the medical world is, in many ways, much more complex. As an older guy, I get to visit several doctors at my large, Chicago hospital. My internist and one other separate specialist, are in private practice and are not part of the hospital. Each of these firms have their own, unique computer systems. These independent medical providers do not want to use the hospital’s system or share their confidential patient records. Another specialist is part of the hospital and uses their system. I have a separate account with each doctor and several sets of separate records. When I occasionally get a test done in Florida and want it sent to Chicago, it is usually faxed as the medical world has been very slow to adopt email.

The world of medicine consists of many separate providers. Some are parts of hospital groups but most are not. When I chat with the staff in any of my doctors’ offices and ask them about centralized, transferable medical records they politely smile and would tell you that do not know how or when it will ever happen.

I know that business people are not very popular in Washington these days, but we could use some people who have actually done something along these lines if we are ever to hope to create one system of electronic medical records. The other interesting quote in this article was that today over 190 million prescriptions are filled electronically. Do you think it was because all the doctors wanted to quit scribbling these things out? No, it is because the major insurance providers like Aetna and Caremark created o- line systems that doctors could use. Those companies are not part of the federal government. Innovation in the medical world of electronic records will not come from our government doling out subsidies to every health care firm, it will come from those dreadful business firms who approach this as a business opportunity first and make it worthwhile and profitable for the medical world to follow.

Systems and procedures are a fascinating subject that we will cover more in my book, The Business Zoo!