How Johns Hopkins is using Systems Engineering to fix Health Care

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Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse / Healthcare Systems Engineering — Patient safety researchers and clinicians at Johns Hopkins University in partnership with the systems engineers and systems integrators of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) are advancing research in a new systems engineering in Healthcare that puts the needs of patients and clinicians first; reports.

They are working on a healthcare system that integrates technology, people, and processes so that they are seamlessly joined in pursuit of a shared goal.

Systems Engineering in Healthcare

Systems Engineering in Healthcare

Systems engineering uses a host of tools that include modeling and simulation, requirements analysis and scheduling to manage complexity. Systems engineering is said to be an interdisciplinary field of engineering and engineering management that focuses on how to design and manage complex systems over their life cycles.

Johns Hopkins researchers believe the lack of systems engineering in health care results in a constellation of technologies that rarely connect, to the detriment of patient safety, quality, and value. For example:

  • Different monitors emit alarms that compete with one another for the attention of clinicians, who must sort out which signify serious conditions and which don’t. Sometimes they miss critical alarms amid the noise.
  • Devices, electronic medical records, and even patient beds have electronic information that can help diagnose conditions and assess risks. However, clinicians must consult each one individually, rather than seeing a unified display of information from them.
  • Time that could be spent with patients and their loved ones is instead squandered in front of computer monitors, as clinicians click through dozens of screens in search of relevant information.

All of these, according to the researchers, leads to needless patient harm, low productivity, excessive costs, and clinician burnout. Doctors and nurses feel as though they’re serving technology, not the other way around. Preventing complications, errors, and other harm too often depends on the heroism of clinicians rather than the design of safe systems.

“While systems engineering is new for health care, it has become routine in other complex, high-risk fields. It is the realm of systems engineering, a field that has contributed to jaw-dropping achievements, such as sending a spacecraft on a nine-year voyage to Pluto and designing a nuclear submarine.” – Peter Pronovost, an intensive care physician and the C. Michael and S. Ann Armstrong Professor of Patient Safety at Johns Hopkins University, said.

“These projects would not have succeeded without clearly defined, measurable goals and a rigorous approach for achieving them”, he added.

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