The application of the metaphors ‘machine’, ‘organism’, and ‘culture’ to the organisation of the medical centre. Each metaphor should be explained very briefly, together with comments on its usefulness in understanding both the present situation and the planned one. The New Times Medical Centre is owned by the 4 GPs that work and manage the practice. It provides healthcare to 8000 patients in the surrounding areas. The practice has been operating for 15 years. The practice is contemplating the introduction of a computer system and whether it will be beneficial in the long term.
Since the early 80s the government has offered subsidised administrative systems, the idea obviously in place to improve customer satisfaction in providing a quicker and more reliable service for the patients. However there were problems with the systems research suggested that many practices did not use the systems very effectively. There were also problems with consultation times, which proved to take longer using the systems in contrast to the traditional methods. The systems have improved since the early 80s and are viewed to be efficient tools for use in the surgeries.
The New Times Medical Centre has been offered a free system and in return they must supply the company with the collated clinical data to be sold to pharmaceutical companies for post-market surveillance. This is the decision that the practice needs to make. There are many different ways of looking at an organisation, for example you can look at their formal organisational structure, working culture and or business activities However it can be very difficult and long winded to describe an organisation in this way. This is where the use of metaphors come in.
A metaphor is “a figure of speech in which one ‘thing’ [organisation] is described in terms of another” for example an employee can be described as another “cog in the machine”, as you may have seen on the Royal Navy’s TV advertisements. This example may give the indication that the employee is not seen to be of much value to the organisation although, the Royal Navy suggest it all depend of the “machine” you are a cog in. Metaphors can be used in order to analyse organisations and to improve our understanding of how particular organisation work. So how do metaphors relate to the New Times Medical Centre.
Here are some examples: The ‘machine’ metaphor looks upon the organisation simply as a machine, whereby employees have clearly defined roles, and carry out there jobs very efficiently with little or no waste. One predominant feature of the ‘machine’ metaphor that is not realistic or appropriate in relation to organisations, is that is does not take into consideration the environment the organisation operates in i. e. it is a closed system. In relation to the New Times Medical Centre the employees within the organisation have clearly defined roles.
Like parts of a machine the employees have a job to do and you could say that the practice operates like a machine in the sense that the patients are inputs and outputs, however healthcare is more far more complex than that. The doctors at New Times Medical Centre do not follow machine like commands because it wouldn’t be appropriate. Doctors need to be respond to individual situations and also be compassionate; medicine is not a straightforward, repetitive process and therefore the machine metaphor is not an appropriate description of the Medical Centre.