Personnel, personnel, everywhere, nor any data to drink.

IT’S UNFORTUNATE: Large amounts of money are spent on new hires, yet little is left for employee and data improvement

I recently had an Executive Director of a Cancer Institute tell me,

“At this time, we plan to use simple spreadsheets for our database.  We are committing more than $500,000 for investment in personnel to start our translational laboratory this year.  I hope  we can subsist with simple spreadsheet use for our pilot studies.”

This sentiment immediately followed a detailed discussion, one that I’m very familiar with, concerning disparate researchers’ databases and how organizations’ needs remain unsatisfied, suffering from lack of integrated data.

Just so we’re all on the same page, let me make sure I understand this situation correctly –

  1. You are currently using “simple spreadsheets” to assist researchers with all things data. You’ve astutely noticed that these stale methods don’t meet your needs, and you agreed to a meeting with Edgewater because you’ve heard positive success stories from other cancer centers.
  2. You just spent three quarters of a million dollars on fresh staff for a new translational lab.
  3. You are now budget-constrained because of this arrangement and want these new hires to use “simple spreadsheets” to do their new job… the same ineffective and inefficient spreadsheets, of course, that caused the initial trouble.

Did I understand all that correctly? I didn’t grow up in the ’60s, so I’ll continue to pass on what he’s smoking.

So who wins with this strategy, you ask? No one!

We keep buying things thinking ‘that’ll look better’ and it just doesn’t

It’s unfortunate for the researchers because they continue to rely on an antiquated approach for data collection and analysis that will continue to plague this organization for years to come.

How many opportunities will be overlooked because a researcher becomes overwhelmed by his data?

It’s unfortunate for the organization because it’s nearly impossible to scale volumes (data aggregation, analysis, more clinical trials, more federal/state grant submissions, etc.) with such a fragmented approach. How much IP will walk out of the door for these organizations on those simple spreadsheets?

It’s unfortunate for the brand because it can’t market or advertise any advances, operationally or clinically, that will attract new patients.

It’s unfortunate for the patients because medicine as an industry collectively suffers when:

  • Surgeons under the same roof don’t recognize and notify their counterpart researchers that they have perfect candidates for the clinical trials they’re unaware of.
  • Executives continue to suffer budget declines from lower patient volumes and less additional revenue from industries partnering with cancer centers that have their act together.
  • Researchers under a single roof don’t know what each other are doing.

As in the picture above, “more” doesn’t necessarily mean “better.” Ancillary personnel and sheets of data don’t necessarily equate to a better outcome. Why continue to add more, knowing that this won’t solve the problem? Why infect more new hires with the same sick system? Why addition instead of introspection?

So, just as I told him in my response, I look forward to hearing from you in about 12-18 months; that’s roughly the amount of time it took the last dozen clients to call Edgewater back to save them from themselves.