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Improving Healthcare by Teaming Industrial Engineers with Clinicians

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.919.1 - 26.919.18



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Paper Authors


James Benneyan Northeastern University

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Dr. James Benneyan is former senior systems engineer at Harvard Community Health Plan and founding director of the Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute at Northeastern University, including three NSF and CMS funded centers and five undergraduate through post-doctoral degree, internship, and fellowship programs. Jim is faculty and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, holds joint appointments in Northeastern's engineering and health sciences colleges, and past is President of the Society for Health Systems. He serves on numerous editorial and advisory boards, has received 12 research, teaching, and service awards, and has been principal investigator or co-director in seven research centers totaling over $32 million in funding.

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Corey Balint Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute at Northeastern University

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Corey Balint, holds both a BS and MS in Industrial Engineering from Northeastern University and currently is a staff healthcare system engineer in the HSyE institute. Current responsibilities include: serving as day-to-day project manager of our AHRQ patient safety center, leading a portfolio of roughly 10 projects at any time, and assisting with senior team projects. Balint has expertise in quality, medical staff services, change management, Lean, Six Sigma, and other performance improvement methodologies and has extensive experience working with numerous healthcare organizations and culture.

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Teaming Industrial Engineers with Clinicians to Learn how to Improve HealthcareThe Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has funded a national demonstration projectto create broad visibility and demand for healthcare systems engineering through a scalableextension center model. The extension center model was first heavily used in Agriculture tospread improvement methods and ideas between different regions and systems. In this instance,the regional extension center was created to do the same for hospitals with these systemsengineering improvement methods. The grant allows for the educational institution to supplystudents, at no cost to the system besides their time, to help solve problems within their hospital.Methods and approaches developed at one system are intended to be spread to other systems andultimately other regions. This paper will provide an overview of progress to-date and how weapproach replicating specific ‘triple aim’ projects in other health systems. The ‘triple aim’ is athree pronged approach, created by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, to: improve thepatient experience of care, improve the health of the population, and to reduce the per capita costof care. The projects focused on are in areas of specialty referrals, overuse of imaging anddiagnostics, bed demand prediction, staff scheduling, primary care and healthy starts, and patientsafety.In its first 2 years this grant has created a successful regional center in Boston and is startingsatellite centers in Seattle, Charlotte, San Francisco, and elsewhere. Results to-date include 62projects in 28 health systems, workforce development of 127 industrial engineers and 472healthcare personnel, $24.5m in savings, and significant reductions in harm, poor access, andunnecessary utilization of imaging, diagnostics, and referrals. A key objective and CMS criteriafor broader scale is to demonstrate repeatability in terms of the ability to extend this impactbeyond New England, to multiple benefits several-fold, and to repeat successful projects in otherhealth systems. During the course of this grant, numerous seminars and workshops weredeveloped and run from both the industry and collegiate side of thought. Faculty and studentswent and spoke to industry members on industrial engineering approaches and solutions to theirproblems, while healthcare employees spoke about their problems and what they’ve doing tocombat them.Students are heavily involved in working with and developing relationships with healthcaresystems as they work on projects and seek out future opportunities for improvement. From theseexperiences many students affiliated with the center have gone on to work in partneredinstitutions. On top of that, the center has brought 55 students in for co-ops and internships fromover 14 universities. This has created a large nationwide network of student friendships that werefounded on a focus on healthcare improvement. Upon entering the workforce, the bonds createdhere, will only strengthen the college-industry relationship.

Benneyan, J., & Balint, C. (2015, June), Improving Healthcare by Teaming Industrial Engineers with Clinicians Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24256

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