Factory Efficiency Comes to the Hospital is the headline of an article in the New York Times today. It talks about the importance of being “data-driven” (that’s a quote from the article). Here’s another quotation, this one from an efficiency expert:

“The health care industry could be on the verge of an efficiency revolution, because it is currently so far behind in applying operations management methodologies.”

Here’s a response from a nurse in the article:

Nellie Munn, a registered nurse at the Minneapolis campus of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, thinks that many of the changes instituted by her hospital are inappropriate. She says that in an effort to reduce waste, consultants observed her and her colleagues and tried to determine the amount of time each of their tasks should take. But procedure times can’t always be standardized, she says. For example, some children need to be calmed before IV’s are inserted into their arms, or parents may need more information.

“The essence of nursing,” she says, “is much more than a sum of the parts you can observe and write down on a wall full of sticky notes.”

And one more quote:

And George Lebovitz, a management professor at Boston University, says there are limits to performance-improvement methods in hospitals. “Human health is much more variable and complex than making a car,” he said.

This “efficiency” effort is very concerning to me, and it mirrors some dangerous trends in public schools. As I’ve written before, data has its place, but it also has to be kept in its place. I’m wary of being data-driven, but feel it’s reasonable to be “data-informed.”

What does that mean?

Here are some of my previous posts that raise concerns about how data is used in schools, and how “efficiency” might be not be the best framework for our education system:

“Data-Driven” Versus “Data-Informed”

Is “Complicated” To “Complex” As “Puzzle” Is To “Mystery”?

Is Today’s Embrace Of Data “The New Stupid”?