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Conceptual Framework Of Healthcare Systems Engineering And Pilot Curriculum Development

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

IE Program Design II

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.396.1 - 12.396.14



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Paper Authors

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Bin Wu University of Missouri, Columbia

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Cerry Klein University of Missouri


Michael Hosokawa University of Missouri

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Associate Dean, Curriculum
Professor, Family Medicine
School of Midecine, University of Missouri-Columbia

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Karen Cox University of Missouri

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Coordinator of Clinical Outcomes, MU Hospitals and Clinics, University of Missouri

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Beilei Zhang University of Missouri

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


This paper presents a conceptual framework of Healthcare Systems Engineering (HSE). By instilling systems thinking into the context of healthcare systems improvement, this framework outlines the context, contents and relationships of this increasingly important, multidisciplinary engineering domain. A very important issue therefore is for the educators, students and practitioners to develop a sound understanding of what “healthcare systems engineering” actually means. This paper attempts to address this issue by, based on lessons learned from system improvement efforts in the industrial sectors, presenting healthcare systems engineering in a number of key terms, which logically relate to the main study areas that need to be considered.

The paper also reports how this framework is providing a logical basis for a number of current initiatives in the University of Missouri-Columbia, involving faculty from the MU College of Engineering (Industrial Engineering), MU School of Medicine - Health Management and Informatics, MU University Hospitals and Clinics, and MU College of Education. In particular, with the support from the National Science Foundation (CCLI Program), MU College of Engineering is developing and pilot implementing a HSE program for engineering undergraduate students at the university. The coursework included in this program will prepare future engineers who are capable of applying structured and systematic approaches in the analysis, design and continuous improvement of healthcare services and systems.

Need for Healthcare Systems Engineering

With rapid technological advances and changes paralleling what occurred during the past two decades in the industrial sectors, the healthcare sector appears to be in the midst of a new “industrial revolution.” There is an urgent need to apply the principles of engineering, science, management, and technology to healthcare improvement. It is now widely accepted that a systems engineering approach should be adopted as an important basis for the future efforts to approach the tremendous challenges and opportunities in patient safety, service quality, and healthcare costs containment, and hence there is a need for multi-skilled professionals with qualifications in healthcare systems engineering.

For example, in the U.S. healthcare costs reached $1.678 trillion in 2003, which represents 15.3% of the nation’s total GDP1. In addition, the nation’s projected annual growth rate of healthcare spending is at an estimated 7.2%. Consequently, hospital payments have been, for thirty years, the single largest components of health costs in the U.S., and these high costs are directly affecting the nation’s industrial competitiveness. The need to improve system efficiency in the healthcare sector in terms of service safety, quality and cost (SQC), has become more important over the last twenty years, and from all quarters there have been calls for improvement2.

What is the right approach for achieving healthcare service improvements? This is the crucial question. Based on lessons learned from system improvement efforts in the industrial sectors during the past two decades, the authors and their colleagues had proposed previously that a

Wu, B., & Klein, C., & Hosokawa, M., & Cox, K., & Zhang, B. (2007, June), Conceptual Framework Of Healthcare Systems Engineering And Pilot Curriculum Development Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1532

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