Friday, June 25, 2010

Obesity - a KPI? How silly can you get?

Mr Liak Teng Lit, CEO of Alexandra Hospital and the coming Khoo Teck Puat Hospital was reported as saying "....All things being equal, if you are grossly obese, we won't promote you."

My goodness! Obesity as a work KPI (key performance indicator)!

Innovative? Definitely.
Attention grabbing? Most certainly.

But it is the height of arrogance, silliness and preposterousness to even consider such an option. Mr Liak should read the CDC feature, as well as the recent article in Newsweek Magazine, "The Real Cause of Obesity. It's not gluttony. It's genetics. Why our moralizing misses the point."

Perhaps Mr Liak should also penalize those who can't pass their IPPT (Individual Physical Proficiency Test). Not to mention the elderly, myopes, diabetics and hypertensives as well.

Prof R Kanagasuntheram - why we cannot recognize the inspirational amongst us.

Last Saturday, an ex-teacher of mine from medical school passed away. He was in many ways an inspirational teacher of Anatomy - knowledgeable, always caring about his science, and especially of his students. Although he had retired from academic life many years ago, many came forward toexpress their condolences.

But the University and Medical School have remained fairly silent. I am not surprised.

Our institutions here find it very difficult to recognize greatness in our midst. They prefer to laud the highly visible achievers from the West who never contributed anything significant to our development. Or big 'Johnny come lately' donors. So you will find not find any lecture theatres, or buildings called after local heros.

So sad.

Why are we so afraid to be gracious? So reluctant to recognize our own people?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Worker's safety - are we serious?

The Straits Times today also carried a report on the recent lorry accident where 3 workers riding in an open topped lorry died. The accompanying report by Ng & Chin, highlighted the inadequacy of safety measures in the transport of workers to and from their worksites.

I was horrified to find out that employers were given up to 2012 to comply with the improved safety measures. 2012? If measures are unsafe, they should be stopped dead in their tracks. Full stop. Is the MOM and the LTA really serious about workers health and safety?

These have obvious resonance with a previous posting on safety vests worn by workers. In case employers and the MOM don't know, the purpose of wearing the vests is to improve visibility. There really is no point in wearing those fluorescent green vests if they are muddy faded and no more fluorescent.

We had similar nonsense during the recent H1N1 shamdemic when we had rules galore, which no one seriously implemented. Just a show about being safe. Similarly, pages of lab safety guidelines that sounded fantastic, and which can be shown to accrediting agencies, when everybody knew that they could not be implemented.

I mean, are we really serious about worker's safety?

The missing genius? Indeed.

The Straits Times today ran a full page report of an interview with physicist and futurist Dr Michio Kaku. He fingered Singapore's lack of originality, and perhaps a chief limitation to Singapore's success. He said, 'If you want to be a leader, you can't just copy, you have to create'. How true.

So much of what has passed for leadership in Singapore unfortunately has been based on frenetic and often thoughtless copying, instead of true innovation. Leaders are rewarded for how rapidly they can introduce changes based on Western (often US) ideas and developments. To me this is not leadership. I have posted earlier on Dr Goh Keng Swee's exception leadership qualities, as well as the poor simulate of leadership we have currently in our medical environment where we just mindlessly ape US methods, as if those were going to automatically determine success. PAH!!

So often we have seen local ideas and innovations poo-pooed simply because they do not conform to US ideas of how things should be done. Original research ideas are artificially aligned with US ideas of how things should be done, and rejected if they do not match up. Sadly, often we see them resurrected years later only after some US guru suddenly proclaims them to be the latest research fad.

So where's the originality? Where's the creativity? Where's the true leadership?

Indeed, 'if you want to be a leader you can't just copy, you have to create'.

So here's a plea to our would be leaders, ....please lead...please help and facilitate our originality and creativity. Stop going for those low lying fruits. And playing those self gratifying numbers games.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Teaching a new ball old tricks...

Not very well received so far. Many complaints. But for intents and purposes, a technologically superior ball compared to previous versions of the football.

I found it quite interesting.

So here's a question to ponder.... is everything better always...better?

I can think of the software upgrades we keep getting. Each versions gets better and more powerful ...but invariably bigger, messier and more difficult to use. In many ways they become less intuitive and we need more keystrokes to get to the same point. Is better, better?

Our work 'software' has the same problem. Office and management 'improvements' keep destabilizing the work process , and I often wonder if productivity is improved.... or actually degraded through these frequent changes.

Seems like there is a certain efficiency in familiarity, and a certain loss in efficiency when we operate on the learning curve. If changes occur frequently, even though they may ideologically be 'improvements', a certain inefficiency is introduced by moving workers from a position of familiarity (and its associated efficiency) to an unfamiliar uncomfortable position on the learning curve.

Not everything that is better, is actually better.

Closer to home....I think our health care system as well as medical education environment needs a period of stability so that we can all start mastering the processes rather than keep chasing endless series of changes.

Friday, June 4, 2010

NKF short of money?? You must be kidding....

The headlines in one of ST's reports screams "NKF short of money and nurses".

Really? I am not disputing the nursing shortage....this is probably something being experienced in every sector of health care. But short of money??

The report is very similar to the one floated in Nov 2009.

While I am not criticizing NKF for doing great work with kidney disease, I have 2 questions:

a] What is wrong in occasionally, or even habitually dipping into the reserves? Especially if the reserves are in access of S$250,000,000.00?

b] Why is it perceived that somehow renal patients are more deserving of charitable support than patients with other chronic or catastrophic diseases....? That NKF should sit on such great wealth while other charities are languishing?