Robots for hire

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Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor

In the roundup of best Super Bowl commercials, the one that best relates to your lives didn't air.

No, I'm not talking about the elderly people escaping from the nursing home to go eat Taco Bell, although I'm sure that's something that keeps your security people up at night. Or the Clydesdale: Brotherhood commercial, my personal favorite even though it makes me cry every time I watch it.

The one I'm referring to is from Adobe Marketing Cloud and features a monkey and a horse talking about the wisdom of spending millions of dollars on a Super Bowl ad when it makes more sense to run it online. Yes, it's meta. You can see it here.

Adobe is on a roll in this area, with its systems group creating a commercial in November even more applicable to your lives: It's about how all the data in the world doesn't matter if you don't have the analysis.

You can watch the commercial here — tell your boss I said it was okay. But if you can't, here's a description: In short, it involves a robot being let go because while he/she/it is great with gathering statistics, the robot can't provide any context.

Apart from the fact that I don't think you are supposed to feel sorry for the robot losing his/her/its job, the commercial brilliantly encapsulates what companies in all spheres are doing: Thinking that gathering numbers or data will make you more productive. McKnight's guest columnist Steven Littlehale tackles this regularly in his “Analytically Speaking” column, and other experts have weighed in on this. But I'm not sure everyone is listening.

While there are basic percentages all long-term care providers are used to juggling in their head — overall case mix in a facility, for example — we are pushing the industry to increase their tracking for components such as hospital admissions or readmissions. When we promote internal audits, we leave out that it doesn't matter what you find if you can't put it into context for your facility, and come away with actionable goals related to compliance and quality.

Perhaps the biggest problem, not unique to long-term care, is when we expect employees to be good at everything. Directors of nursing may be able to juggle around shifts, double-check all the MDS's, make sure the wound care specialist is involved in a pressure ulcer case and take calls from family member after family member. But is it fair to also ask them to be able to analyze trends in their facility as compared to other regional or national standards?

There's a reason this industry is loaded with consultants. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, or expecting your employees to be, realize the real message boils down to hiring someone with experience. When you do, you won't need to spend money on the talking monkey, or the now-unemployed robot.

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.