seal  Purdue News

July 2004

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

On July 22, Professor Joseph Pekny and I traveled to Indianapolis to announce the establishment of a new center at Purdue that has the potential to bring about vast improvements in health-care delivery.

The Regenstrief Foundation has provided three-year start-up funding of $1 million annually, beginning in 2005, to launch the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering at Purdue, with possible increased future funding.

The center – to be located in Discovery Park on the West Lafayette campus – will apply the principles of engineering, science and management to improve the delivery of health care to consumers. Under Joe Pekny's direction, it will concentrate the resources of almost every Purdue scholarly field on the problem of improving the efficiency and responsiveness of the health-care system. I believe this is an opportunity for Purdue to have a major impact on a public policy issue that ultimately affects every citizen in the nation.

Regenstrief Foundation President Leonard Betley says that the center will carry out a vision his foundation's founder developed out of his own experiences with health care. Leonard put it this way: "Over 40 years ago, Sam Regenstrief applied system approaches in his own business. At the same time, he was frustrated by what he saw as a confused and inefficient health-care system. The Purdue Regenstrief Center is an effort to realize his dream of bringing to the health-care system the same type of approaches he applied in his business life in order to achieve better and more efficiently delivered health care for everyone."

The Purdue Regenstrief Center will work with Regenstrief Institute Inc. at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. The Institute – a national leader in health-care informatics – is dedicated to the improvement of health through research that enhances the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care.

The Purdue Regenstrief Center will apply process-engineering principles, such as supply-chain management and just-in-time manufacturing to health-care delivery, following the flow of information, funds and materials through the system to achieve better results and efficiency. Some initial areas of research will include improving the safety and efficiency of patient care, providing more efficient deployment of physicians, nurses and other health-care personnel, improving health communications and better coordinating inpatient and outpatient treatment. The ultimate goal is to make health-care delivery more efficient so its practitioners can concentrate on the needs of individual patients.

About 25 percent of the floor space in Purdue's new e-Enterprise Center will be devoted to research and office facilities for the Regenstrief Center. The partnership with the Regenstrief Institute will be a key because that organization has significant expertise and a tremendous amount of data about health care.

In addition to the foundation's support, we believe the Regenstrief Center will attract government grants and corporate and private support for its research.

There will be no easy victories in the effort to improve the efficiency of such a vast and complex system, but it is a challenge Indiana and all of America must confront. Our state is committed to becoming a national leader in the life sciences, and I believe Purdue has both the expertise and the will to make a significant difference on this important front.