Purdue News

May 9, 2005

Purdue's Regenstrief, state hospital association announce partnership

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University's Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering and the Indiana Hospital&Health Association have created a partnership to improve the way health care is delivered both in Indiana and across the nation.

Purdue professor Joe Pekny, interim director of the Purdue Regenstrief Center, said a number of Purdue experts had visited six Indiana Hospital&Health Association (IHHA) hospitals during November and December to better understand the challenges and opportunities hospitals face in health-care delivery.

"We were struck by the willingness, and even urgency, of the hospitals to have our engineers, scientists and management experts join with health-care providers to deliver high-quality and cost-effective health care," Pekny said.

Hospitals are the major health-care employers in Indiana. In 2003 hospitals' operating expenses totaled $10 billion, and they employed nearly 115,000 Hoosiers. Hospitals admitted more than 700,000 patients, treated 2.5 million emergencies and handled another 15 million outpatient visits. Hospitals are challenged to meet an ever expanding demand for services while insurers, both governmental and commercial, seek to limit their financial liabilities.

Charles H. Mason Jr., president and CEO of Parkview Health, Fort Wayne, Ind., and 2005 chairman of the Indiana Hospital&Health Association, which is based in Indianapolis, said his group sees great potential in the new partnership.

"Indiana's hospitals are very excited about our partnership with the Regenstrief Center," he said. "We believe it will result in safer and more cost-effective patient care, and Indiana will become a national leader in process improvement. We look forward to working with Purdue's experts to take a fresh look at how we go about improving the way we deliver health care."

Pekny said the Regenstrief Center's hospital visits revealed a number of recurring themes – positive and negative – the partnership will address.

"Hospitals in general are challenged by the increasingly competitive health-care market and realize they must improve their processes, share best practices and improve processes, such as intake and medication management," Pekny said. "These are the areas we addressed in our partnership agreement.

The agreement has five components:

• Creation of a health-care Technical Assistance Program, as an extension of the existing Purdue program that improves efficiencies and introduces new technologies in manufacturing and other sectors.

• Development of a Web site for collaboration and knowledge management.

• Creation of series of best-practice case studies.

• Development of a small number of seed projects with individual member hospitals.

• Development at Purdue of a health-care engineering curriculum and training materials.

The Technical Assistance Program component will provide short-term consulting services for hospitals, said TAP director David McKinnis.

"Purdue's TAP has a 20-year history of serving Indiana manufacturing, life sciences and information technology companies," McKinnis said. "Healthcare TAP will now adapt its knowledge of operational improvements to health-care providers in short-term projects that initially can result in immediate improvements and solutions to productivity, quality, safety and cost problems."

McKinnis said initial projects could address opportunities in a number of areas the hospitals identified during the Regenstrief Center visits. The projects could involve:

• Supply management.

• Hospital pharmacy processes.

• Data management.

• Procedures and documentation of administrative functions.

• Operation procedures.

• Organization of equipment for repetitive tasks in admissions, nursing stations, maintenance, patient rooms and medical procedure rooms.

Seed projects will address longer term projects between individual hospitals and Purdue's Regenstrief Center.

Mason said Indiana's hospitals have high hopes for the partnership because the stakes are so high.

"We must use all available resources and all of the lessons learned from other industries to identify best practices in health care," Mason said. "Purdue's Regenstrief Center and its partners from the Indiana University School of Medicine hold the potential to help us truly build a 21st century system of care that is as qualitative, safe and error-free as humanly possible."

Purdue's Regenstrief Center and the hospital association each committed $50,000 in start-up funds for 2005 and $100,000 for 2006.

The mission of the Purdue Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering is to partner with the health-care community and apply in an interdisciplinary fashion the principles of engineering, science, management and other disciplines to study and improve the health-care system. The Regenstrief Center is administratively housed in the e-Enterprise Center in Discovery Park.

The Indiana Hospital&Health Association is the professional trade association for Hoosier hospitals. It provides representation, data, communication and education services to its 164 member hospitals and health systems.

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077, mlillich@purdue.edu

Sources: Joseph Pekny, (765) 497-9969, pekny@purdue.edu

David McKinnis, (765) 494-9189, mckinnis@purdue.edu

Bob Morr, vice president and media contact, Indiana Hospital & Health Association, (317) 423-7733, bmorr@inhha.org

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


Related Web sites:
Indiana Hospital & Health Association

PriceWaterhhouseCoopers report: The Cost of Caring: Key Drivers in Hoosier Healthcare Spending


Related news releases:
Purdue, Regenstrief establish center to re-engineer health-care delivery

Purdue, St.Vincent Health embark on three-year research initiative


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