Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

December 2014    |    Volume: 46    |    Number: 12

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial Engineers

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Editor's Desk

By Michael Hughes

Unloading the topic of healthcare

Healthcare is a loaded topic. Depending upon the perspective of the people in the room, discussion over a U.S. government-run, single-payer system versus a truly free market versus the current hybrid can lead to much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

At IE magazine, we try to avoid such. Too much gnashing leads to medical problems. While politicians bicker, industrial engineers offer solutions and aim to make a difference.

Speaking of that, this year’s edition of “Engineers Who Make a Difference” includes a feature on Sherry Weaver. The University of Toronto doctoral student and researcher applied her industrial engineering mindset to the uncertain waiting times for hip and knee surgery in Canada’s public healthcare system. “Engineers Who Make a Difference” features two others and starts on Page 31.

The feature story by Ali Kamrani and Maryam Azimi on Page 38 merges the manufacturing tool of rapid prototyping with nuclear medicine. “Fighting Cancer with High Technology” details how statistically analyzing data for head and neck cancer yields models that can predict how radiation therapy changes tumor size and shape. The continued fight against cancer must combine the best from many specialties. Kamrani’s research, which teamed IEs with MD Anderson Cancer Center, shows how industrial engineers creatively apply knowledge to everything they touch.

This teamwork is important, whether it’s a partnership between two organizations or a Six Sigma team at a medical center. D. Junell Scheeres tackles this in her monthly Health Systems column on Page 26.

The healthcare extravaganza starts in Front Line on Page 14 with our interview of David Belson. The USC professor has been pleased with how rural hospitals in Southern California have welcomed IE techniques.

So this month’s IE has a wealth of information about how the profession can improve (and is improving) healthcare. For more hands-on learning, register for the 2012 Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference from Feb. 18-21 at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Details are available at www.shsconference.org.

Michael Hughes is managing editor of IIE. Reach him at mhughes@iienet.org or (770) 349-1110.