Of all of the places one can imagine, our health care system is the preeminent entity that I believe
should be leaps and bounds ahead of everyone when it comes to managing data.
Over the last year or so, I’ve listened to my father-in-law’s observations about our healthcare system as
he led the charge relating to the changing needs of his disabled sister. He described how one nurse
would come into the hospital room, ask a series of questions, make some observations, take some
notes, and then leave. Shortly afterwards, another nurse would come into the hospital room, ask a
series of similar questions (getting similar answers,) make some observations, take some notes, and
then leave. At some point, a doctor would come into the hospital room, ask a series of similar questions
(and get similar answers,) make some observations, take some notes, and then leave. Usually these
notes where made on a chart that hung outside the hospital room door.
- The cost incurred to have 3 highly paid and very intelligent individuals gathering similar
information would likely astound me;
- All of the information gatherers collected similar information, and compiled it into one paper-based record;
Could anyone walking by a hospital room with malicious intent grab someone’s chart and leave
that patient’s caregivers without access to critical information? Why isn’t this electronically
secure yet (it’s only 2015 already!)
- Patients get tired of answering the same question over and over;
- Why wouldn’t the health regions equip each caregiver with a tablet computer that brings up a
patient’s entire health history with the scan of a QR code that could be found on the patient’s
Why am I writing about this? How is this important to you? First off, our healthcare should be of great
importance to everyone. But specifically as it relates to this blog, consider the
paragraph and bullet points above, but this time let the patient be your farm and the caregivers be your
business advisor, your lender, and your marketing advisor.
How much better would it be to have all of your critical business information readily available for your
strategic partners to help you more effectively and efficiently manage your business?
How inefficient is it for each party to have to ask you for the same info? Your time is worth something
too, so wouldn’t you be better off not having to run through the same routine 3 times over?
How much risk is your business at if you were to lose, accidentally or maliciously, your historical business
We’re a decade-and-a-half into the 21st century, and technology is awesome. When are we going to start
trusting it and using it to its full potential?
From the Home Quarter
I believe we have the best healthcare system in the western hemisphere, and I am by no means
criticizing any of our hard working health-care providers. But I do question the bureaucracy and
inefficiency that plagues the system (at least in the eyes of this layman.) I think we could do so much
better, which would then allow those on the front lines to spend more time providing healthcare rather
than administering information.
I believe that Western Canadian farmers are of the most efficient producers in the world, and I am by no
means criticizing any of your advancements and dedication to improving your production. But I do
question the lack of urgency and the failure to recognize the importance of having up to date critical
business information readily at your fingertips. You aren’t making the same type of “life and death”
decisions that are made daily by our health-care providers, but the decisions you make for your business
will effectively set in motion the cause and effect that can lead to life or death of your business.
Call to Action – Rate your current information management practices:
1. Can you produce your working capital figure within 2-3 minutes at your computer?
2. Can you advise what your total fertilizer cost per acre is by field? By crop?
3. Can you produce a current list of all farm assets with market values?
4. Do you keep a rolling list of cash requirements for the next 18 months? (i.e. loan payments,
property taxes, insurance premiums, etc.)
5. If you’re not willing to compile this critical information, are you willing (or can you) hire
someone to do it for you?
If you’ve answered YES to at least 4/5, congratulations, you’re ahead of the curve.
If you’ve answered YES to 3/5 or fewer, then please pick up the phone and ask for help.
(Hint: I always return voice mail messages.)