The joys of getting it right (and Janet)

I am so, so happy. I sat down with the lovely Jiri last week (yes, Jiri, if you are reading this, you are totally lovely and I will keep my promise to buy you a two litre bottle of Diet Coke to drink at the Christmas party) to go through a little featurette that he had been adding. It wasn’t an amazing thing: it was just an infographic tool so people could see exactly what proportion of people had taken sick days against standard benchmarks. You could compare people to other people in your practice, other people in that role in the UK and other people of your age, gender etc.  So the practice manager would see (this is a random example that has no basis in statistical truth) that nurses in their practice take more sick days than GPS, and try and track it as to whether that was because nurses in general take more sick days than GPs, and if so, is that because nurses are women of such and such an age, whereas doctors are a different demographic.

So we’re going to market it as a tool to see where you might be able to improve things: see if there are particular problems in your practice where people might be overly stretched, or to see whether there are things you could do to make things a bit more adaptable, or whether someone is consistently taking off more days and so on and so forth. It’s not full on accurate stats, but it gives overviews and places to look.

And Jiri had set it up so it would virtually do somersaults with a sugar cube balanced on its nose. But, to be able to get it to do the somersaults, you had to be incredibly precise and accurate and lay out the exact mix gradient, including opacity, xy grid lines and the exact height of the Great Pyramid in pixels.

And he demonstrated all of this stuff too me, and we discussed what the average user… as tribute to one of my best and coolest friends ever, I’m going to call her Janet. Janet is, of course, clever and funny (just like the real Janet) and a dab hand with numbers (ditto), but she’s got into practice management from a nursing background (ok, real Janet, this is veering a little bit from reality) and while she is brilliant at the HR side of it, she would prefer not to have to fiddle with computers. Her ideal is that she sets things up once a year, and they then work. And she doesn’t have to set up anything she doesn’t need to. So Janet would love the idea of a quick overview of where her nurses were doing against the UK norm (because she obviously knows who’s actually doing what on the ground), but she doesn’t have the time or interest to waste on tweaking grayscales (and if she did, she would point out that’s not what she’s supposed to be doing or what the practice can afford).

And Jiri, (yes, you, I’m so happy….) understood. And I did a nice big poster for the Janet persona, and stuck it on the wall, and there is this new mantra in the office, “Would Janet care?”. And there are basic sensible defaults for everything, and all the tailoring is tucked behind a big curtain so it’s only there if you actually want to look at it and it’s grouped by function and it’s lovely. And I am bouncing up and down (must be all the additives in the diet coke) because it’s working, it’s working and I feel I have actually done something useful.

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