Email boosts productivity

Thursday, March 31, 2005

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mitchell Home Medical has been on a tear lately. Late last year, the company moved its headquarters to a new 4,000-square-foot location, and shortly thereafter expanded beyond Michigan’s boarders by opening two locations in Ohio.
As exciting as those developments are, the company’s director of sales and marketing, Larry Loewen, sounds even more jazzed about the HME’s new email capacity. Until installing a new computer network in January, only 10 of the company’s 60 employees spread over six branches had email.
“It’s been awesome,” Loewen said. “Right now people wouldn’t know what to do without it. If you have a quick three-second thing you want to ask someone but don’t want to bug them, you email them. Before, since we had to communicate by phone, if they were busy, you were leaving messages or having to call them back.”
Given the technology revolution that has occurred over the past 10-15 years, it seems a little odd that a company may not be up to speed with something as seemingly basic as email. Indeed, industry watchers appear split on this issue. They either feel that Mitchell came to the email party extremely late and is a bit of an anomaly, or that many small HMEs are still blind to the advantages of email and don’t know what they are missing.
“A company with six locations is the average size company I work with, and I haven’t worked with a company for five years that hasn’t had email capabilities,” said consultant Mike Barish, president of Ancor Healthcare Consulting.
On the other hand, David Pfeil, director of healthcare consulting at Arrow Professional Enterprises, said Mitchell’s recent email upgrade doesn’t surprise him.
“We are nowhere near doing what larger and different folks in healthcare are doing, let alone banking and industry’s like that,” Pfeil said.
Whatever the case, Loewen’s just glad his company invested in a new computer network. The increased email capacity improves company communications and boosts productivity by allowing employees to multitask. It also saves on paper costs. Mitchell now distributes company memos via email rather than printing and handing them out.
“With a small to medium size DME it is hard to justify the cost of something like this, but it had to be done,” Loewen said. “We realized that we weren’t up to speed with the way the real world communicates daily. “Business happens in real time,” he added. “So the faster you can communicate in real time, the more productive and more business you are going to do.”