Hidden cost of “touch intensive” healthcare

The Boeing Center’s annual Meir J. Rosenblatt Memorial Lecture is an opportunity for prominent academics and practitioners of supply chain and operations management to discuss emerging trends and enjoy a presentation from one of the field’s preeminent thinkers.  The distinguished guest speaker for the 12th installment was Jan Van Mieghem, the Harold L. Stuart Professor of Managerial Economics and Professor of Operations Management, Managerial Economics & Decision Sciences at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.

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Van Mieghem spoke on the topic of collaboration (simultaneous versus procedural) and multitasking in healthcare networks. Emphasis was placed on designing the processes the right way to take full advantage of collaborative practices while minimizing their potential productivity losses. He particularly outlined the productivity challenges and efficiency costs of recently advocated collaborative practices in patient care.

BCTIM - Rosenblatt1After developing a theoretical analysis of the maximal throughput of the process under simultaneous collaboration, Van Mieghem and his fellow researchers performed an empirical study at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. In this study they observed the actions of hospitalists, or general practitioners, as well as the digital records of several patients.  They found that a single patient’s record was touched by as many as 385 healthcare professionals, thus revealing why patient care can be such an expensive process. Inappropriate use of collaboration protocols can make such “touch intensive” processes even more inefficient and costly for all of us.

For more, check out the video highlights and photo gallery.

By Evan Dalton


The Rosenblatt Lecture series was established in 2003 to honor the memory of Meir J. Rosenblatt, who taught from 1987 to 2001 at Olin Business School as the Myron Northrop Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management. A leader among faculty, Rosenblatt often won the Teacher of the Year award at Olin and authored the book “Five Times and Still Kicking: A Life with Cancer,” having battled cancer multiple times throughout his life.

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