Avinash Konkani: The Role of Industrial Engineers in Healthcare

I attended the recent Institute of Industrial Engineers’ Great Lakes 2013 Conference at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. Traditionally industrial engineers (IEs) are employed in manufacturing industries to improve the output and efficiency of the production plant. During this conference, experts talked about the healthcare system as a nontraditional career track for IEs and encouraged the new generation of IEs to consider it.

As a student of industrial and systems engineering, I have learned many techniques that biomedical engineers typically do not learn.  For example,  analytic hierarchy process (AHP) is a useful tool in making unbiased decisions, and discrete event simulation (DES) can help to modify a system for optimal output. We can apply DES in simulating a hospital’s bed allocation system to maximize its utilization. It can also be applied to improve the equipment repair process (by minimizing the machine down time) of a clinical engineering department.

In her presentation “IEs in Healthcare,” Lucy Young, director of Performance Excellence & System Initiatives at Henry Ford Health System, discussed how IEs could be used in the healthcare system. She said that IEs can apply change management to improve the performance of a hospital and provided several examples, including the reduction of ER wait times, the application of a Kanban system, failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), root cause analysis, new construction workflow, and labor management and staffing.

I think many of these techniques can be applied specifically to clinical engineering.

Avinash Konkani

Doctoral Candidate in Systems Engineering

Oakland University

Rochester, MI



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