What is healthcare engineering?
Healthcare engineering employs concepts and principles of engineering and applies them to healthcare situations. Engineers look at problems or systems and design new or improved ways of making those systems work — like finding better ways to make a car more fuel efficient, for example. In healthcare engineering, the system is the healthcare system and includes all facets, from medication safety to patient and family engagement.
While there are many applications for healthcare engineers, and these individuals may come from a variety of engineering disciplines, three examples of applications are:
- Disease. Engineers may model the natural progression of disease or the spread of disease, such as in pandemic planning.
- Treatment. While the clinical science always remains with the medical professionals, engineers can contribute through studying optimal drug administration for individualized medicine, or designing optimal radiation scans.
- Delivery. This is the process of providing care, and includes challenges like population health modeling and care coordination.
Research at the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering (RCHE) focuses on delivery. Once clinical science establishes what treatment should be applied, delivery science can assist in examining how that treatment can be delivered to the patient. Here are some examples of healthcare delivery research:
- Scheduling. How do you schedule patients so that doctors can see as many people as possible, patients do not have to wait long, and you can account for the people who forget to show up for their appointment?
- Readmissions. Are there commonalities in patients who have preventable readmissions? If you know what those are, can you intervene to prevent those?
- Physician-patient communication. Is it helpful to have a patient's spouse in the consultation? If so, how can they best be engaged to help keep everyone healthy?
Models help researchers display and visualize concepts. View the RCHE model of Integrated Healthcare Delivery.
Applying academic research to transform healthcare delivery.
Affiliates and Programs
- Cancer Care Engineering
- Center for Health Outcomes Research and Policy (CHORP)
- Center on Poverty and Health Inequities (COPHI)
- Center for Medication Safety Advancement
- Health Informatics and Learning Technologies (HILT)
- Purdue Healthcare Advisors