Shark Tank: Y's suggestion

This pilot fish manages the IT department at a small rural hospital. One morning when he gets to work there's a voice mail request from the night shift: Please fix the "Y" key on the nursing station's computer, because it's sticking.

"I sent my tech up to check it out," says fish. "The keyboard was dusty but appeared to work fine. Just the same, he replaced it with a new keyboard. It's not unusual for a keyboard that gathers that much filth to have keys start sticking. Problem solved, case closed."

But two days later, there's another voice mail from the night shift. Same problem. Tech reports it still looks fine, but he replaces the keyboard again, this time with one fresh out of the box.

A few days later, fish gets a written work request from the chief nursing officer to fix the problem of the "Y" key sticking on the nursing station computer.

"At this point, I go up to the nursing station myself," fish says. "I pull up a blank Word document and test the keyboard. Everything seems to work fine, including the 'Y' key. The day shift secretary tells me she has no problem with it, but the night shift secretary keeps complaining about it."

That evening, fish returns to the office after a late meeting to find yet another voice mail about the "Y" key sticking. This time he heads up to talk directly with the user.

Fish demonstrates that the "Y" key works fine in a Word document. But she tells him, "The key only sticks when I'm ordering lab tests, but then it sticks all the time."

"So I ask her to demonstrate," says fish. "The lab order entry application has duplicate-order checking that pops up a message whenever a user attempts to order a test that has already been done within, say, the last 12 hours. It's something like: 'This test has already been ordered for this patient for MM/DD/YY HH:MM! Are you sure you want to process this order? Y/N.'

"The user was ignoring this warning, and made so many duplicate orders that she had to press the 'Y key six or seven times -- once for each duplicate order -- before it finally processed the latest order. And of course the 'sticking' only got worse as her shift went on.

"I told her that she might want to actually read the warning messages before she proceeded to answer them, because they might be trying to tell her something important."

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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