Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Medical Records Scanner

On my current temp assignment I scan paper medical records into a computer database at Springfield Clinic.

Yesterday our manager gave us a pep talk, part of which involved telling us to strive to increase the number of records we scan each day. She didn't mention making improvements along the entire chain of communication. She may not have been aware that there are times when we run out of documents to scan and must scrounge to find work, and other problems.

To me, and perhaps other scanning clerks, it appeared that we alone were responsible for improving the rate at which we scan medical records. It may not be the case, but it didn't improve my perception of her.

Each person assigned the task of scanning medical records is required to count the number of images scanned and tally their totals at the end of each day.

The purpose was not disclosed, but was easily construed as a method by which to compare the productivity of persons assigned to scan the records.

The objective as proposed initially has many problems that will either skew the results, or will leave an individual or group vulnerable to retribution or termination of their job for something that was not their fault:

A. Sheets that requires the user to switch resolution and color modes on the scanner.
B. Re-scanning sheets after adjustments are made.
C. Sheets that are missing medical record number (MRN), date of birth (DOB), or other information for verification.
D. Sheets missing the MRN, requiring the extra steps to lookup the name and date of birth.
E. Scanner hangs with an hour-glass icon for several seconds.
F. The time it takes to remove staples, or rescan documents having hidden staples that jam the scanner or tear the sheet.
G. Unfolding or unrolling paper to accommodate the scanner.
H. Sheets requiring the use of the scanner bed instead of the duplex feed-through scanner.
I. Incorrect MRN.
J. Adjusting the contrast and sharpness of the image after scanning.
K. Sheets from separate records stapled together.
L. The interpretation of obscure hand writing.
M. Employees working against one-another by hoarding work that sabotages the statistics of other employees, making them feel vulnerable to termination or unwarranted discipline, thereby creating a hostile work environment.
N. Employees can be targeted with work that artificially lowers their statistics.

The normal process is as follows:
1. The employee picks up a sheet to be scanned.
2. The employee must find the MRN on the sheet.
3. The employee then types the MRN into the computer and calls up the appropriate record.
4. The sheet is compared to the computer’s record by cross-referencing the MRN, name and DOB.
5. The scanner is adjusted or not depending on the quality of the sheet.
6. The sheet is placed on the scanner.
7. The appropriate folder is selected on the computer
8. The scan icon is located on the menu and is selected.
9. The document is scanned.
10. The employee checks the quality of the image scanned into the computer.
11. The image is assigned a name according the department from which it came.

Some employees are given stacks of sheets organized so one can scan twenty or thirty sheets at a time for one medical record; in other situations one must repeat steps 1 through 11 for each individual sheet, or for only up to four sheets at most. The average likelihood that one would encounter one or more of incidents A through L is also statistically higher for those who must lookup records more frequently when encountering incident D.

This process seems completely unfair in judging those who scan, unless you are acutely aware of the kinds of records which are scanned. One must also be aware of the kinds of malicious behavior that can undermine the productivity of those who scan. For example, one who consistently is given sheets with the MRN clearly written, one day received a stack with no MRN, resulting in additional labor with incident D inserted after step 2.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

House and Senate on Break

Our U.S. Senators and Congressmen are on their August break. You might see them around your district. We, the people expected change after the 2006 election, and the rumors going around are that the Democrats have rolled over and have not been effective since they have become a majority.

But, we, the people rolled over. We only gave the Democrats a simple majority, not an overriding majority. For the Democrats to be effective against the onslaught of warmongering predatory capitalists, an overriding majority is needed, a better than two-thirds majority that can override a Presidential veto or some other arcane parliamentary procedure.

So we have nothing to complain about but our own inability to elect an effective majority of legislators different from those who dominated our government for the last six years.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Supreme Court Rewards Cheats

The United States Supreme Court has awarded companies that get away with wage discrimination, a free pass for being able to get away with hiding the inequity of pay for at least one hundred and eighty days.

Companies count on their employees feeling guilty about asking what their coworkers get, and so far it's a pretty good bet.

Throw that rule out the window the next time you invite coworkers out for drinks after work, and see long your boss keeps his management position.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Sting of Outsourcing:

The Entrepreneurial Ghost that was once the spirit of American Superiority in Information Technology (IT).

The ghostly wail of the American Information Technology Entrepreneurial Spirit is echoing down the vast dark catacombs below the lighted world of a market dominated by skills harvested from low wage countries with low living costs and where governments fully subsidize education in technology and medicine.

Corporations want the best of both worlds. They want money from Americans but they don’t want to pay Americans wages. So they systematically drain America of it’s currency and complain about a “Skills Gap” while at the same time they make no guarantees that they will keep any Americans employed long enough to retire.

If you complain about there not being enough IT people, why don’t you find the thousands that were laid off in the late 1990s? What do you think your chances will be?

Nobody wants to have anything to do with it. Why should I get training in information technology if my job is constantly at risk of beings outsourced? Why should you expect your children to be interested in the types of careers their parents lost? Why should any self-respecting American be interested in starting a domestic business related to information technology?

Competition is a grave digger for patriotism. When enough of them open their wallets and find no more cash to exchange for love and respect from their children, Americans will finally wake up and it will be too late.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Temp Work

In 2001 I made twenty thousand dollars a year, now I’m lucky if I can pull in twelve. This is not new. In fact, the majority of people in the Unites States are in a similar situation. You just won’t hear about it in the news. The news media prefers to report information that appeals to a richer audience.

I’m working as a Temp for an agency. I’m on assignment with a hospital doing clerical work. What makes it so difficult is my age. I’ll be 43 years old in July 2007.

Every day I dread will be my last. The sword of Damocles twists overhead, hanging by a thread. Knowing that the assignment is temporary prevents me from taking risks with my money, like getting an apartment or a mortgage, or taking out a loan or credit card for anything. So I live with my mother.

Technically, I am homeless. I don’t own my own home. My privacy outside the few moments I spend in the bathroom is limited to a lock box in a dresser drawer.

Being a Temp is even more difficult when you are surrounded by conceited snobs. Being a temp means that nobody wants anything from you but your work. They know they can put you out the door without even a stroke of a pen. They are as comfortable as I once was before June, 2001.

There is a massive glass fortress of nepotism and cronyism surrounding the very old well established service industries that pay wages at or over ten dollars per hour. But at the same time, there lies within that fortress, a glass ceiling between where I work, and the unseen management.

The one consolation is that you get recycled as a Temp, while full-time employees have no new assignments waiting for them when they get laid off, not if they get laid off, but when they get laid off.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ideology shining through

The "Yes" man has always been mocked in the work place, but the Minister of Style's opinion was always favored by the Emperor when it came to his new clothes.

What the boss says goes. That's the way it is, even in the world of news reporting, following is the safest course of action if you want to keep your job, so a be a good little worker and match the ideology of your boss, right?

Lately I've been seeing a shift toward the right when it comes to reporting by the news media, and especially the Associated Press (AP). But according to their own website, the Associated Press is a not-for-profit cooperative... with a board of directors, of course.

It's only natural to elect top-tier corporate executives as leaders for the self-proclaimed "not-for-profit cooperative," because those are your choices.

Naturally, an employee will act in deference to employers, just as newspapers will act in deference to their advertisers. It’s a natural human behavior. Reporters sometimes make assumptions about those for whom they work, and there’s a chilling effect that occurs.

Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News reported on President Bush’s trip to Brazil on Friday, March 9, 2007, and made no mention what-so-ever about the thousands of anti-Bush protesters that were getting gassed and beaten by riot control squads. What does that say those for whom he works, and was he the Producer of that segment?

To see both sides of the same story, you must pay attention to more than just one source of news, and if you are a reporter, don't be afraid to tell it like it really is.

The news media reports all the time about how unemployment is going down, but do you hear about the increase in homelessness? Do you hear about the people whose unemployment benefits have expired?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trade Deficits

Trade Deficits

Even on C-SPAN they talk of a trade deficit with China. There are goods being manufactured in China for consumers in the United States. Goods were once manufactured in Mexico for the United States too.

A Mexican Ambassador once said that most of the companies in Mexico are American companies. It was the first and last time something like that was ever again said on television.

The trade deficit with China is a lie. The companies in China are American companies. The one truth is, however, that the money is going to China, but then it goes into the bank accounts of those who were once American, but now can globe-trot and thumb their noses at the citizenship rules by which the rest of us live.

They are the global entrepreneurs who have shed themselves of any sense of loyalty to their childhood nation. When Leona Helmsley said “only the little people pay taxes,” her biggest mistake was living in the United States when she said it.

So let’s think about it for a moment. If they are doing it, why shouldn't the rest of us? Why should we be hindered by the rules of patriotism shirked by those who control all of our natural resources?

I worked hard, like the dutiful Kamikaze pilot who celebrated his final flight with rituals and parties, but when his engine didn’t start, he walked off the runway to his superiors who previously proclaimed they would soon follow him, and he discovered that they had no such plan to die that day, or any day.

There was no reciprocal loyalty at work when I was laid off at AT&T. They paid me a wage so they didn’t have to consider my intrinsic value as a human being.

So, what makes you so sure that all your hard work will win the hearts and minds of those who are forced by law to pay your wages, taxes, health insurance, and other benefits?

Never assume that you have job security. Always look over your shoulder. It’s a cold hard world in America.