For more than 100 years, the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) entertained audiences in Symphony Hall, one of the finest musical halls in the world. As information technology advanced, the BSO deployed numerous systems to manage ticketing, payroll, and personnel management in an effort to automate processes and lower costs. In spite of these efforts, the budget for the BSO rose every year leading to progressively higher ticket prices and a greater need for grants and donations. Like other orchestras around the world, the playing of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony required a conductor and a minimum number of violinists, cellists, horn players, percussionists, and other musicians. No amount of information technology deployment could reduce the number of people required to play instruments to deliver the music.
In many ways healthcare is like a symphony orchestra. Although information technology can enhance care planning, assist in medication administration, and reduce duplicative testing, it cannot replace the people required to deliver care services to patients. Nurses are needed to administer medications, therapists are needed to provide treatments, and physicians are needed to diagnose illnesses and provide treatment plans.