Too Far Ahead of the It

6117 Words Feb 8th, 2013 25 Pages
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HBR CASE STUDY AND COMMENTARY

How should Peachtree try to fix its IT infrastructure problem?
Four commentators offer expert advice.

Too Far Ahead of the IT Curve? by John P Glaser .


Reprint R0707A

Peachtree Healthcare’s patchwork IT infrastructure is in critical condition. Should the CEO approve a shift to risky new technology or go with the time-tested monolithic system?

HBR CASE STUDY

Too Far Ahead of the IT Curve? by John P Glaser .

COPYRIGHT © 2007 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Freshly showered and cooling down after their squash game, Max Berndt drank iced tea with his board chairman, Paul Lefler. Max, a thoracic surgeon by training, was the
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They’d been having this conversation for several months—sometimes informally, other times in full board or committee meetings. Max listened, to a point. Eventually, he always fell back on his clinical experience. “You can standardize the testing of ball bearings for manufacturing defects,” he said. “But as far as I know, you can’t—at least not yet—standardize the protocol for treating colon cancer.” As a physician, Max believed that the last word in all matters of patient care should rest with the doctor and the patient. But as a CEO he believed in best practices. So his compromise position was to favor selective (Max called it “surgical”) standardization. Indeed, many areas of clinical treatment—immunizations, pharmacy record keeping, aspects of diabetes care—could safely be standardized around best practices over which there were few disagreements. In other areas, though, standardized practices could have scary patient-safety consequences, and physicians had to be free to form their own judgments about which treatments were best for which patients. Lately, however, worrisome developments were eroding Max’s confidence that he could hold out against Paul’s brute-force prescription.

Remember The African Queen?
Days before, there had been a meltdown of the clinical information system at Wallis Memorial Hospital in Decatur. (Wallis was Peachtree’s most recent addition.) Since Max had been lunching with his chief

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