The Inefficiency of Efficiency

An excellent article, finally, on Medical Taylorism, has been published in the New England Journal of Medicinehttp://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1512402.

Frederick W. Taylor was the fellow who wrote The Principles of Scientific Management, ironically enough, published the same year as Abraham Flexner’s report on how to make medical schools that could educate excellent, humanistic and scientific physicians. Taylor was the efficiency expert who followed his factory workers around with a stopwatch, broke their crafts into single tasks, and insisted that each one do the repetitive, mind-numbing work that has come to represent the twentieth century. He fired those who continued to try to practice their craft as a craft, as “inefficient.”

In this essay,  Hartzband and Groopman analyze how this same approach, Taylorism, is now being applied to physicians, and is not simply pernicious, but wrong. Worth reading.

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