Friday, August 3, 2007
Student internships help Crittenton improve processes
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Two Oakland University students are helping Crittenton Hospital Medical Center in Rochester improve some of the hospital’s processes. OU Industrial and Systems Engineering Department professors Bob Van Til and Sankar Sengupta secured the summer internships for the undergraduate students through a $27,000 grant from Crittenton for a lean process improvement project.
Students John Tesluk and David Platt are able to apply what they learned in the classroom as well as from other jobs and projects they have worked on to deal with in-hospital patient transport processes and pre- and post-operative medication dispensing. Each of the students is working approximately 30 hours per week from June through August on one of the projects and trying to come up with new, lean ways to enhance the process.
“The hospital had found that some of their systems don’t work as well as they could,” Van Til said. “We are working with Crittenton personnel on redesigning them and in the process giving the students the opportunity to experience industrial engineering first-hand. Note the students are not involved in making any medical decisions, just in the improving the processes that executes medical decisions once they are made.”
Tesluk’s project is to look into pre- and post-operative medication distribution. With an associate degree in mechanical engineering and some previous experience in light assembly manufacturing, Tesluk had no medical experience, but had experience with the lean and Six Sigma process improvement goals.
At Crittenton, Tesluk is examining seven surgeries including some cardiac surgeries, hip replacement, knee replacement and colon surgeries, to determine how antibiotics and prophylactic medication is dispensed before and after surgery.
“These measures are really important. They are going into a national ranking for all hospital across the country through a process set up by Blue Cross,” Tesluk said. “I’m going through and looking at the processes and suggesting process improvement. If the hospital makes all the changes that Blue Cross requires, there is a financial gain for them.”
There are more than 100 people that touch the process Tesluk is working on. Currently, the processes are reviewed three months after the fact, making it difficult to go back and fact check. Crittenton is looking for a new way to review the process in a timelier manner.
The process is already ranked a two on the Six Sigma scale of one through six, meaning it’s already an efficient process. Tesluk said it’s going to take a lot of work to improve the processes ranking.
The process is important to the hospital due to the potential financial gain each year. Tesluk said he hopes his involvement with the hospital will lead to more opportunities for students in the future.
“I want it to be a success because it’s opening the door for the university and Crittenton and it’s laying the foundation for further relations for future students and more internships,” Tesluk said.
Platt is looking at the hospital’s processes for centralized transport. Four departments on the hospital’s first floor have their own staff for transporting patients. The 10 employees from the operating room, endoscopy, radiology and special diagnostics move patients to and from their rooms or to the doors for discharge.
“Right now, if one of those departments is busy and the others are not, the busy department doesn’t get any help from the others,” Platt said. “We want to centralize the transport teams into one area.”
In the beginning, Platt would walk behind transporters moving patients. He would document what they were doing, how long it took to move a patient, how long it took to wait for an elevator. He spent most of his day talking to people and learning their current routine.
Platt said he uses a lot of the information he learned in ERG 260 Introduction to Industrial and Systems Engineering and statistics to help redefine the process. In addition, Platt is using his communication skills to make sure everyone understands the proposed process changes.
“There was some resistance at first. Among the four groups, there was only one that was initially on board. However, after showing each group how it works and communicating the benefits, the others have started to support the change,” Platt said.
Platt previously served in the military where he worked with electronics. He came back to school to study mechanical engineering.
“As a result of this internship, I’ve decided to add industrial engineering as a second major, in addition to my mechanical engineering major,” Platt said. “I originally took the class because it was something different, but I really enjoy doing it and I could see myself doing something like this.”
Van Til said industrial engineering in health care and in service industries is a growing area. Corporations are looking to make systems and processes work better.
“Our students have the tools to share with these organizations, like Crittenton. They look at the big picture and then try to work with people to change the process,” Van Til said. “This program is a pilot study and we are looking to set up a long-term arrangement with Crittenton to have our students participate in these sorts of projects.”
For more information on the Industrial and Systems Engineering program at Oakland University, visit the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Web site.