After exhaustive research, I recently upgraded to an iPhone from a cell phone that made my garage door opener seem high-tech. Since then, I've made and received a total of 20 calls, played 33 rounds of Boggle, supervised my son's nine games of Monkey Preschool Lunchbox and, while traveling, snapped a photo of an orange tree (for a Chicagoan, this was akin to spotting a unicorn).
Two stories in this issue highlight technology's most vexing question: Is it worth the expense? At Dartmouth-Hitchcock, where preloaded iPads replaced board packets the size of unabridged dictionaries, the answer was a clear and resounding yes. In addition to physically lightening trustees' load, D-H simultaneously reduced the amount of meeting materials, boiling them down to must-read items with links to more information on a secure website. Staff spend less time creating and distributing materials, and the trustees are more productive. "I am better prepared," noted one trustee. "Having the material set up in this manner enables me to focus on the priorities for our meeting." Sounds like a return on investment to me.
The debut of our series on evaluating clinical technology presents the flipside of D-H's success story. ECRI Institute's Anthony Montagnolo suggests tough questions trustees should ask about a technology acquisition: Is it worth it? Does it perform better than current treatment modalities? Should acquiring it be part of the strategic plan? For proton beam therapy, his answer is not yet.
Many things in this world require a leap of faith—marriage, skydiving and haircuts immediately come to mind—but technology shouldn't be one of them. Research, analysis and planning reduce the uncertainty. To manage the risk inherent in all major investments, this issue's Executive Briefing, How to Evaluate Financial Risk, can help.
The iPhone's return on investment? Right after this next game of Boggle.