Q&A with Richard Biehl; The challenges facing health care systems engineers

June 23, 2017
From the June 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Why do we need to have health care systems engineers for all of this?
RB: Health care systems engineers are specialists, bringing knowledge, skills and tools to bear in distinct ways that are unlikely to be included in many organizational change initiatives otherwise. Many health care organizations include quality or process improvement activities that work to address many of the problems being encountered across the system. These initiatives can successfully improve efficiency and effectiveness in meaningful ways. The people conducting these activities are well-meaning and hardworking, but they often concentrate too easily on symptoms of problems rather than causes of problems. They fix components of systems, and problems often then pop out in other components. Systems engineers are educated and trained to focus on the system as a whole, and to implement changes in components that actually optimize the whole system. The people in the system need to be involved because they know their patients, processes and interfaces better than any engineer could. It’s the synthesis of all of that knowledge with systems thinking that will improve our health care system for the future.

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