HSyE Newsletter
November 2013, Issue 1
Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Dr. James BenneyanIt has been a tremendous year of growth at HSyE. We expanded our NSF research center, launched a third large-scale center (through CMS), hired talented faculty and staff, and are continuing to develop our undergraduate and graduate academic and internship programs. To top it off, the Institute received over $8 million from the Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Center to conduct a national demonstration project on how systems engineering can help reduce costs, improve quality and safety, reduce delays and poor access, and improve outcomes and population health. We invite you to propose "triple aim" or summer internship projects we can assist with (see form on our website). This upcoming year, we look forward to continued and new partnerships with healthcare systems and academic institutions, expanding our work to Northeastern's Seattle and Charlotte regional campuses, and applying healthcare systems engineering methods for significant impact and national scale.

James C. Benneyan, Ph.D.  
Executive Director, Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute
2013 Summer Internship Program a success

The Healthcare Systems Engineering Summer Internship Program provides in-depth, hands-on experiences for industrial and systems engineering undergraduate students nationwide. This past summer, interns from across the U.S. once again converged in Boston to work on applied research problems in dozens of healthcare systems affiliated with HSyE's centers. Feedback about the program continues to grow, with interns having an increased understanding of health systems, the triple aim, and the application of ISE to healthcare. Overall, in the past two years, there has been a tenfold increase in applicants to the program and in requests for new projects from local health systems. We hope to share good news about expanded funding soon. Read more. 

Student spotlight: Rachel Miller, MS candidate 
Rachel Miller, MS candidate
Industrial Engineering
Photo by Taylor McLelland
Why healthcare systems engineering?
I am studying industrial engineering because of the wide range of careers available to this skill set. I am working with HSyE because I believe in Dr. Benneyan's vision and in his capability of seeing it through. I knew that I wanted to be part of that.

What experience have you gained here?

Two of my three co-ops focused in healthcare. My first was with the New England Veteran's Engineering Resource Center, which Dr. Benneyan co-founded, where I participated in systems redesign projects at the Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury VA's. My second was with MedAmerica in San Francisco where I learned about ER operations and consulting practices. Read more. 
President Joseph E. Aoun
Northeastern University
Photo by Mary Knox Merrill 
President Aoun addresses researchers collaborating to transform healthcare 

Article by Angela Herring
"Improving the nation's healthcare system requires significant collaboration across disciplines," said Northeastern's President Joseph E. Aoun. One of the few groups that do this kind of groundbreaking work is the Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT), an industry-university cooperative research center located at Northeastern, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, and Penn State and funded by the National Science Foundation. In October, students and faculty from the Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute presented the results of a score of interdisciplinary projects at a meeting for members of the center. President Aoun underscored that this type of interdisciplinary collaboration is essential to addressing global challenges. "Every project should do what you are doing: namely, partner with others to change the world." Read more. 

Publication spotlight: Predictive analytics to improve ED flow
Peck JS, Benneyan JC, Nightingale DJ, Gaehde SA (2012), "Predicting Emergency Department Inpatient Admissions to Improve Same-Day Patient Flow", Academic Emergency Medicine, 19:1045-1054.


Emergency department crowding and boarding is a widespread problem, typically linked with patient flow and bed capacity problems. We develop and validate a simple method for predicting ED-to-inpatient bed demand in real-time over the course of a day, to assist unit managers in allocating resources and managing discharges. The approach uses logistic regression estimates of patient admissions as inputs to a probability convolution of the mean, variance, and distribution of the total number of admissions hour-by-hour. Results perform quite well, compared to expert opinion and a Bayes conditional probability model, with a receiver operating characteristic AUC of 0.887. A subsequent publication illustrates the method's generalizability across a range of hospital sizes and demographics. Read more. 

Research spotlight: The spread of improvements across healthcare networks 
A multi-university research project in our National Science Foundation Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT) aims to better understand the spread of improvement and best practices within and across healthcare systems. The project addresses macro-level system innovation from two related vantage points. The first, led by Texas A&M, involves the spread and sustainability of Evidence Based Leadership across several facilities within large complex health systems. The second, led by Northeastern, focuses on the spread of improvements across healthcare networks by mapping their structure and developing models of improvement flow across these systems. Download the Center's research compendium.
Project spotlight: Primary care continuity scheduling   
As part of patient-centeredness and otherwise, healthcare is moving towards team-based models that encourage improved continuity of care and communication among healthcare providers. This in turn results in better care, better outcomes, higher satisfaction, Driver diagrammore trusting relationships, better preventative health compliance, and fewer avoidable admissions and revisits. Continuity, however, is a particular challenge in primary care due to the complex logistics of patient coverage, especially when residents are involved. A project within our CMS Extension Center therefore developed a scheduling method to optimize coverage and continuity of family medicine teams. The challenge lies in creating schedules that provide appropriate distribution of session coverage to create maximum continuity. The method is currently being piloted at the Cambridge Health Alliance family clinic in Malden, MA, resulting to-date in increased care continuity by an average of roughly 20 percent. Read more. 
Dr. James Benneyan, Director
Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute
Photo by Brooks Canaday
Proven systems engineering methods can cure complex healthcare challenges
Article by Angela Herring
Dr. James Benneyan addressed a room full of senior healthcare improvement leaders at a recent Northeastern workshop, illustrating how his three centers have used these tools and approaches to address high-leverage problems facing Boston healthcare organizations. This approach brought to a national scale, he estimated, might cut the annual nearly $3 trillion healthcare budget by one-third. Benneyan has shown this same potential in individual health systems and now has funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to scale it across an entire healthcare community, establishing a healthcare engineering extension center here in Boston. Read more.
HSyE Mission
Broad regional and national impact on healthcare improvement through education, research, and application in systems engineering methods.  

Upcoming Events

November 22 
Research Seminar
Dr. Jennifer Pazour
Analytical Modeling of Logistics System Design
December 17

INFORMS Boston Chapter
Dr. James Benneyan
A Model for Scaling Healthcare Systems Engineering Nationally:
The Medicare/Medicaid Innovation Center Demonstration Project 
Register now.

Dr. Benneyan briefed the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering on his CMMI National Demonstration Project at the joint IOM-NAE meeting Systems Approaches for Improving Health Innovation.
Read more.

Recent Publications
 "Predicting Emergency Department Inpatient Admissions to Improve Same-Day Patient Flow"
Academic Emergency Medicine

 "Specialty Care Single and Multi-Period Location-Allocation Models within the Veterans Health Administration"
Socio-Economic Planning Sciences

 "The Use of Control Charts in Healthcare"
Statistical Methods in Healthcare

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