Wasted productivity is a large but avoidable expense. Our current security systems serve a critical purpose, but could be more time efficient. This proposal would avoid losing more than $900 million annually of currently lost productivity while preserving security.
Proposal: Create streamlined security software that allows one to stay signed in securely to the network and to password protected programs and avoid automatic time out and avoid automatic log off. A workstation could be secured by the proposed software using the same credentials currently required for access, and would keep the connection to the network and secured software alive until securely accessed by that same user again.
Currently temporary periods of inactivity lead in as few as ten minutes to programs timing out, (without saving work) and loss of network connection (automatic log off without saving work) even if a workstation has been password locked. There are legitimate reasons to allow employees who observe security precautions to have a temporary period of computer inactivity.
Elimination of the startup time after logging back in and eliminating re-starting all required programs would save roughly 5 minutes per instance. A recent survey published on FierceEMR.com reported that this proposed procedure “saves clinicians 15 minutes per day”.
Fifteen minutes per day is more than 3% of an 8 hour (480 minute) day. According to USA Today the average annual cost of a federal employee is $123,049.00. Because there are approximately 250,000 VA employees 3% of the annual employment cost = 250,000*3%*$123,049 is more than $922 million, or the equivalent of the productivity of 7,500 full time employees.
Insuring security of protected information at the VA is critical to our mission, but it is costly to allow security concerns to needlessly diminish our productivity. It is possible to modify our current software and policies to preserve security and recover significant lost productivity.