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July 22, 2004

Purdue, Regenstrief establish center to re-engineer health-care delivery

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue is establishing a center to apply the expertise of almost every area of the university to improve the delivery of health care to consumers, thanks to a multimillion dollar commitment from the Regenstrief Foundation Inc.

Leonard J. Betley and Martin C. Jischke
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The Regenstrief (REE-gen-streef) Foundation in Indianapolis is providing 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.

Purdue President Martin C. Jischke made the announcement Thursday (July 22) at the President's Executive Roundtable Luncheon at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

"With the Purdue Regenstrief Center, we can bring the university's core strengths to bear on a public policy issue that ultimately affects every citizen in the nation," Jischke said. "Having a center of innovation here is also healthy for the Indiana economy."

Jischke has advocated partnerships with Indiana companies and non-profits to contribute to the economic growth of the state.

Leonard J. Betley, president of the Regenstrief Foundation, said, "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. (RII) at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. RII is dedicated to the improvement of health through research that enhances the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. RII is a national leader in health services research and developed the Regenstrief Medical Record System (RMRS), one of the first and now one of the oldest and largest (more than 300 million online clinical results) electronic medical record systems in the world.

By the time the center formally goes into operation in January, almost every school at Purdue will be involved. Engineering health care means approaching the delivery of services in a systematic way, Pekny said. In order to do that, the Purdue Regenstrief Center will involve not only the faculty of engineering and management but also a number in the liberal arts areas such as kinesiology, health communication and medical sociology. Researchers also will be tapped in the areas of pharmacy, nursing, health sciences, technology, consumer sciences, information technology, agriculture and veterinary medicine.

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, and better coordinating inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Joseph Pekny, director of the e-Enterprise Center at Discovery Park and a professor of chemical engineering, said the Purdue Regenstrief Center will focus on a systems-analysis approach to the delivery of health care and not on medical research and treatment.

"We are allocating at least 25 percent of the floor space of our new e-Enterprise Center to research and office facilities for the Purdue Regenstrief Center," Pekny said. "We're looking at this venture as a long-term partnership in which we utilize the expertise and vast amount of data the Regenstrief Institute has amassed and use it as a starting point to re-engineer health-care delivery using leading-edge engineering and management principles together with continuing advances in information technology."

Dr. Thomas Inui, director of the Regenstrief Institute and associate dean for health-care research at the IU School of Medicine, said, "The Purdue Engineering faculty and our IU School of Medicine faculty in medical informatics, health services research and geriatrics have complementary expertise. We look forward to identifying areas of collaboration that would bring us into strong interaction with the faculty of the Purdue Regenstrief Center as we work together to improve health care."

Pekny said, "The Purdue Regenstrief Center also will be partnering with the IU Medical Group-Primary Care, a practice of 138 IU physicians in 17 clinics that produced more than 500,000 patient visits in 2003."

Dr. John Fitzgerald, IU Medical Group president, said, "Partnering with Purdue and the Regenstrief Institute will allow us to apply the principles of engineering and management science to the everyday operational aspects of health-care delivery. We hope that the knowledge gained and lessons learned in this venture will help improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of care and provide significant benefit to our nation's citizens and businesses."

The Purdue Regenstrief Center will establish "living laboratories," which will involve placing the university's researchers in partner medical facilities for extended periods to work on projects. In addition to the space in its e-Enterprise Center, which the university's trustees approved at their April board meeting, Purdue is contributing five faculty researchers to the Purdue Regenstrief Center. Purdue's total support of the center is calculated to be $6.8 million over three years.

Pekny said he also expects the Purdue Regenstrief Center to attract government grants and corporate and private support for its research.

The Regenstrief Foundation and Regenstrief Institute Inc. are named for benefactor Sam Regenstrief, who emigrated from Vienna to Indianapolis as a child. Regenstrief founded a company that manufactured and popularized the low-cost home dishwasher, at one time producing 37 percent of the world's dishwashers in Connersville, Ind. Regenstrief died in 1988. The Regenstrief Foundation carries out Sam and his wife Myrtie Regenstrief's philanthropic legacy of interweaving medicine and technology.

The Regenstrief Institute, founded in 1969, is a non-profit, interdisciplinary health-care research organization.

The Purdue Regenstrief Center will be located at Discovery Park at the corner of State Street and Intramural Drive in West Lafayette. Discovery Park, which is now under construction, will include six centers: Birck Nanotechnology Center, Bindley Bioscience Center, Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Discovery Learning Center, e-Enterprise Center and the Center for Advanced Manufacturing. The new Biomedical Engineering Building also will be located in Discovery Park.

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Sources: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708

Leonard J. Betley, (317 848-1400

Mary Gray, Regenstrief Institute and Foundation media contact, (317) 630-7604,

Joseph Pekny, (765) 494-3153,

Dr. Thomas Inui, (317) 630-7604

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related story:
'Engineering' better health care requires all of Purdue's resources

Leonard J. Betley, president of the Regenstrief Foundation, and Purdue President Martin C. Jischke, at right, announce a $3 million gift to launch the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering at Purdue, beginning in January 2005. The announcement took place at the President's Executive Roundtable Luncheon on Thursday (July 22) at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott. The Purdue Regenstrief Center, to be located in the university's Discovery Park, will apply the principles of engineering, management, science and information technology to improve the delivery of health care to consumers. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

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