Home Care Heroes Blog

Freakonomics Author to Home Care: Redefine the Problem

In the past, if I was having trouble falling asleep at night, thinking about economics might have been the answer (counting sheep is economics), but that all changed after I read a book a few years ago called Freakonomics.  The authors "redefined the problem" of boring statistical data analysis and came up with a fascinating set of non-fiction stories uncovered by analyzing data.  Now the book has been made into a motion picture.

Freakonomics   Super Freakonomics

Yesterday I had the chance to meet and hear from Stephen Dubner, Stephen Dubnerone of the authors of Freakonomics and their new book Superfreakonomics.  He was speaking to entrepreneurs (in this case technology entrepreneurs but the same message applies to home care leaders) and his challenge was for us to redefine the problems we wish to solve and slso to not accept "the way it's always been done" as a boundary to what is possible.

To make his point, he gave the example of Takeru Kobayashi, the skinny (130 pound) Japanese guy who wins all of the hot dog eating contests.  As it turns out, Kobayashi is an economist and studied the problem from many different angles to develop his technique, and in his first competition in New York he didn't just beat the Takeru Kobayashiprevious record, he doubled it.  To relate this back to home care, we're in the situation of needing to significantly increase our capacity to provide care, and to do it at a lower cost.  So redefining the problem is critically important to our businesses.

Another example that he spoke about at length was about washing hands after using the restroom.  He started by asking the room full of approximately 150 people who doesn't wash their hand bacteriahands after they use the restroom.  One person raised their hand* (I'd imagine that typically there are none).  They did some research and found that 30% of men don't wash their hands in public restrooms.  But that it was even worse for doctors in hospitals...  Then he went through the series of steps that a hospital followed in order to solve their handwashing problem (memos and signs didn't work, $10 Starbucks cards didn't work, and ultimately the problem was solved by forcing a picture of hand bacteria onto the screen saver of everyone at the hospital).

Anyway, I highly recommend the books, and I hope that you can each find a way to redefine a problem that makes your business or your life better.

* As a footnote, the one guy who raised his hand and said that he didn't wash his hands in public restrooms later admitted to being a doctor and explained that he believes he has less chance of picking up bacteria by not touching things in the restroom...  Food for thought.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

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