COMPUTERIZATION RISKS AND SOLUTIONS IN AN OFFICE SETTING
In converting the major functions in the office to a computerized system, there are possible risks and problems involved that need to be addressed. From the point of view of Jane, the office manager, she faces the risk of not being to do her job effectively and efficiently once the major functions in the office are computerized. Her lack of knowledge and experience in handling computers makes her vulnerable to inconsistencies with her work and, worse, not being to work at all. These things, in effect, would negatively impact the performance of the physicians’ office.
From the point of view of Betty, the office assistant, the change in the office system is advantageous for her part. Since Betty had several computer courses in her business school, she is not confronted with the risk of not being able to do her job well. On the contrary, it is expected that she will be able to perform her office responsibilities better. However, she faces the risk of having to handle most of the computer-related tasks in the office once the change has been introduced. Since she is the one person in the staff who is capable of handling computer-related work, it is expected that her workload will increase which, in effect, will make her less productive in terms of the volume and of the efficiency of the works she will be able to carry-out.
From the point of view of the majority of the doctors, the change in the office system is a proposal meant to take advantage of the benefits that can be derived from the use of computers. One of the possible benefits is the hastening of sending correspondences to patients and other institutions. Another possible benefit is having softcopies of the records of the physicians and storing them in a computer database, thereby saving office space and resources. However, the doctors face the risk of not being able to fully adapt to the changes in the office and, therefore, further relying on their office workers to perform new sets of tasks brought about by the change in the office system. Moreover, the fact that one of the physicians is not very eager to change to a computerized system suggests that the introduction of a computerized system might affect the internal relationship among the three physicians.
As for the part of the patients, they face the challenge of having to adjust to the new computerized scheme in the physician’s office. These may include but are not limited to familiarizing themselves with the submission of records and other information sheets that are compatible with the requirements of the computer system and having a bit of knowledge about how the computer-related requirements in the physicians’ office can be met such as softcopies of their healthcare provider details and its contact information such as email.
In general, the decision to computerize the major functions in the office of the physicians affects not only the people who are working in the office and their superiors but also the clients that they serve. If the risks are properly met and addressed, the three-physician group may find itself losing business.
In order that these problems do not occur, it is imperative to develop a plan. In “Computerization of the Workplace”, Burris (1998) suggests that the computerization of the workplace requires, among others, the proper training of the staff with respect to the skills needed to effectively handle computer-related work (p. 146). Thus, the staff in the physicians’ office should undergo computer training especially Jane since she has no previous computer experience. As far as Betty is concerned, she is still required to take further computer training despite the fact she has taken computer courses during her business school. However, the computer training that Betty shall take will most likely consist of higher training in contrast to Jane’s.
Prasad (2003) also suggests that it is not enough to simply train the office staff about computer skills. With respect to the clients of any company, it is important that the company should also consider the possible reactions of the clients and make efforts to address possible reactions that can hinder the activities and performance of the company (Prasad, 2003, p. 1411). One suggestion is to provide their clients with leaflets or other equivalents of condensed manuals on how to use the services being provided by the office. These manuals will have to include a general overview of the changes in the office processes and a set of instructions on how to access computer-related services. It is also important for the staff members of the physicians’ office to send correspondences to other institutions and their clients with regard to the changes in the office scheme. These correspondences will serve as notifications that will inform others about the changes in the office so that they can adjust accordingly.
In the computerization of the physicians’ workplace, the duration of the preparation should also be considered. Within the span of not more than two months, the employees of the office should have already been given the necessary computer training, after which the duration of the next two to three weeks will be used to notify the clients and other related institutions about the computerization of the workplace. Thereafter, the succeeding first two months will serve as a period of evaluation in order to assess the other possible things needed to be done in order to maximize the benefits of the computerization of the workplace and in order to address other concerns such as minor problems in terms of computer hardware and software. Jane, Betty and other employees in the office should also undertake regular computer lessons so as to familiarize them with the recent changes with computers.
Burris, B. H. (1998). Computerization of the Workplace. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 141-157.
Prasad, P. (2003). Symbolic Processes in the Implementation of Technological Change: A Symbolic Interactionist Study of Work Computerization. The Academy of Management Journal, 36(6), 1400-1429.