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HealthCare Bottleneck Relief

explanatory Essay
666 words
666 words
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Many health-care industry bottlenecks can be eliminated, resulting in major improvements in efficiency, cost savings and patient care when hospitals borrow principles from production lines on the factory floor, according to researchers in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University at Buffalo. At UB's Center of Excellence for Global Enterprise Management, Li Lin, Ph.D., professor of industrial engineering, and his colleagues apply industrial-engineering tools, including Six Sigma and other lean enterprise methodologies originally developed for manufacturing processes, to improve the operations and competitiveness of hospitals. "In today's competitive environment, especially with the severe shortage of skilled nurses, the pressure on streamlining hospital operations continues to increase," said Lin. "Health-care managers are seeking new perspectives and creative ways to manage their business. We can engineer medical services with improved cost, quality and efficiency." Lin and his colleagues use animated computer simulations that are based on statistical analyses -- routinely used to model the flow of parts through complex manufacturing processes -- to uncover the bottlenecks or potential problem areas in health-care facilities. "What do cars on highways, manufactured parts in a factory and patients in a hospital have in common?" he asks. "They all move. We use computer simulations to analyze how patients flow through hospitals, while ensuring that th...

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that hospitals can eliminate health-care industry bottlenecks and improve efficiency, cost savings, and patient care by borrowing from production lines on the factory floor.
  • Describes how li lin, ph.d., professor of industrial engineering, and his colleagues use industrial-engineering tools, including six sigma and other lean enterprise methodologies, to improve the operations and competitiveness of hospitals.
  • Explains that in today's competitive environment, especially with the shortage of skilled nurses, the pressure on streamlining hospital operations continues to increase.
  • Describes how lin and his colleagues use animated computer simulations based on statistical analyses to uncover bottlenecks or potential problem areas in health-care facilities.
  • Analyzes how industrial engineers analyze how patients flow through hospitals while ensuring that the drive for efficiency doesn't dehumanize patient care.
  • Explains how lin's computer simulations have helped the buffalo mercy hospital envision how increased patient volume will cause congestion in its surgical unit, necessitating and justifying the construction of new operating rooms.
  • Describes how lin is working with mcauley-seton home care, a division of the catholic health system in buffalo, to streamline the scheduling of nurses' visits to patients' homes.
  • Explains how lin tracked the number of tests that each physician in a hospital ran to diagnose and treat the same disease. industrial engineers can assist hospitals in improving their efficiency with detailed statistical analysis.
  • Opines that while lin characterized the collection and review of such data as "very delicate," it serves as an important starting point for hospitals to find ways to cut costs and for physicians to begin sharing information on the optimal tests to run for each disease.
  • Describes how lin and his team develop computer animations that visually display a hospital's statistical capacity to handle patients in terms of beds, operating rooms, pre- and post-operation facilities and staff.
  • Explains that lin is beginning discussions on how to tackle what is likely the least efficient part of any hospital -- the emergency room.
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