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Information overload


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Power point about information management, by Prof. tom Wilson

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Information overload

  1. 1. Information Overload Myth, reality and implications for health care Professor Tom Wilson University of Sheffield iSHIMR May 2001
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Definitions and introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Technology and information overload </li></ul><ul><li>Personal traits and information overload </li></ul><ul><li>Organizational factors and information overload </li></ul><ul><li>Implications for health care </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  3. 3. Definition - personal overload <ul><li>a perception by a person (or observer) that the information associated with work tasks is greater than can be managed effectively, and a perception that such overload creates a degree of stress for which the coping strategies are ineffective. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Definition - organizational overload <ul><li>a situation in which the extent of perceived individual information overload is sufficiently widespread within the organization as to reduce the overall effectiveness of management operations. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Introduction <ul><li>Information overload is not a new phenomenon </li></ul><ul><li>when ‘natural philosophy’ broke up into the scientific disciplines in the 17 th to 19 th centuries, it became impossible for anyone to keep abreast of all of the work </li></ul><ul><li>nearly forty years ago Price showed the exponential growth of scientific journals and of abstracting journals </li></ul>
  6. 6. The old information explosion
  7. 7. ...and in modern times <ul><li>a general increase in business communication; </li></ul><ul><li>globalisation and deregulation increase competition; </li></ul><ul><li>fewer secretaries are employed to protect people; </li></ul><ul><li>more outsourcing means a wider range of other companies with which it is necessary to communicate; </li></ul><ul><li>more ways to communicate: by fax, voice mail, e-mail, internet and online conferencing, in addition to the more traditional methods, telephone, meetings, post and telex. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Technology and overload <ul><li>clearly, information and communication technologies play a role in the experience of overload </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>e-mail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>voice mail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>mobile ‘phones </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>organizational intranets </li></ul></ul><ul><li>...but, are ICTs to blame ? </li></ul>
  9. 9. The new information explosion
  10. 10. E-mail growth
  11. 11. E-mail bloat <ul><li>e.g. US House of Representatives received c.4,000,000 e-mail messages in August 2000 </li></ul><ul><li>Average manager in Fortune 1000 companies was sending and receiving 178 documents... 69% of Fortune 1000 companies do not have a communications policy to guide and support their employees ability to make decisions about communications tools.&quot; </li></ul>
  12. 12. Voice-mail excess <ul><li>a relatively new phenomenon is ‘blast voice mail’ - the equivalent of e-mail spam </li></ul><ul><li>‘ On Wall Street, blast voice mails are typically sent during the middle of the night, when nobody is around to answer the call and say &quot;no thanks&quot; or hang up upon hearing the familiar pause that precedes a recorded message. In fact, some blast voice mail systems will disconnect if a live person answers and try again later.’ </li></ul>
  13. 13. Personal traits and overload <ul><li>information pull - need for cognition? </li></ul><ul><li>information push - need for recognition? </li></ul><ul><li>appropriate and pathological states </li></ul><ul><li>In general, push works best when it's used for information that must be accessed and acted on immediately. </li></ul>
  14. 14. The impact of overload <ul><li>time is wasted </li></ul><ul><li>delayed decision-making </li></ul><ul><li>distraction from main task </li></ul><ul><li>stress </li></ul><ul><ul><li>tension </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>loss of job satisfaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ill-health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reduced social activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tiredness </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. The organizational perspective <ul><li>organizations are sources of stress </li></ul><ul><li>impact of management consultancy fads </li></ul><ul><li>‘ downsizing’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;In the end, a corporation almost always loses company memory and company energy.” </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. The stressful organization <ul><li>job (and hence) task protection </li></ul><ul><li>‘ risk syndication’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>get everyone committed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>everyone gets the paper </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ cover your back’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>always ‘copy to all’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>always available </li></ul><ul><ul><li>mobile ‘phones are always on - even on holiday </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. The organizational dilemma
  18. 18. Implications for health care <ul><li>information overload is nothing new in health care </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Health care workers overburdened by 'information overload’” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ In the last 35 years, the number of prescription drugs listed in the Physicians' Desk Reference has more than doubled.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ overload means that diligent research for any case can require an open-ended effort, likely consuming many hours.” </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Health care is not immune... <ul><li>to the fads and fashions of management consultancy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ managerialism’ or ‘New Public Management’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>loss of clinical autonomy, increased central government controls, tensions between the management of care and the delivery of care. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;In the health-care field, for instance, researchers in two studies involving 571 hospitals found that patient mortality rates increased by 400 percent when staffs were reduced by 7 percent…&quot; </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. The dangerous mix <ul><li>in health care, as in the rest of the public sector, we have a potentially explosive mix… </li></ul><ul><li>… on the one hand, the pernicious impact of the New Public Management… </li></ul><ul><li>… and on the other, increasing reliance on information technology </li></ul><ul><li>The result , inevitably, is increased stress and increased overload </li></ul>
  21. 21. Conclusion - what is to be done? <ul><li>information policies must deal with more than technology </li></ul><ul><li>organizational issues demand a political response </li></ul><ul><li>technological issues demand </li></ul><ul><ul><li>organizational policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>best-practice development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>training </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>leadership from the top </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Additional references <ul><li>Foss, B. (1999) ‘Voice blast: a new type of information overload?’ CNews, Wednesday, October 6. [Available at http://www. jamshowbiz .com/TechNews9910/06_ voiceblast .html Accessed 14.05.01] </li></ul><ul><li>Goldschmidt, K., Folk, N., Callahan, M. & Shapiro, R. (n.d.) &quot;E-mail Overload in Congress Managing a Communications Crisis&quot; Washington, DC: Congress Online Project.[Available at http://www. congressonlineproject .org/ emailoverload . pdf Accessed 14.05.01] </li></ul><ul><li>Health care workers overburdened by 'information overload’ CNN Interactive 28.01.96 [Available at http://www. cnn .com/HEALTH/9601/information_overload/ Accessed 14.05.01] </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge Ability Ltd (2000) “A short note on information (and e-mail) overload.” Malmesbury: Knowledge Ability, Ltd. [Available at http://www. knowab .co. uk / wbwload .html Accessed 14.05.01] </li></ul><ul><li>United Messaging (2001) “Year-End 2000 Mailbox Report” West Chester, PA: United Messaging. [Available at http://www. unitedmessaging .com/form. cfm ?ID=BA6NA8&CID=13 Accessed 14.05.01] </li></ul><ul><li>Wiederhold, G. (1997) Effective Information Transfer for Health Care: Quality versus Quantity, in: White Papers. The Unpredictable Certainty. Information Infrastructure Through 2000. Washington, DC: National Research Council, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board. [Available at http://www.nap. edu /html/ whitepapers / ch -62.html Accessed 14.05.01 </li></ul>