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EVENTS Archive
Seminar - Developing New Tools for Health Systems Engineering
Date: November 1, 2002
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Commonwealth, Room: 410

Elliot B. Sloane, Ph.D.
Department of Decision and Information Technology
Villanova University

This presentation describes a case study that illustrates one of many applied areas of Health Systems Engineering. This research used the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to perform a microeconomic Health Technology Assessment (HTA) on neonatal ventilators for a women's health facility. AHP is a well-developed decision support tool that allows the user to design a clear hierarchical structure for decision-making and documents and weighs the tradeoffs between different decision criteria and alternatives [1, 2]. AHP also has documented applications for product selection [3]. This study shows that AHP facilitates the interdepartmental interactions needed to evaluate an expensive technology in today‚s healthcare environment. Also, the AHP-based process accommodates the evolving knowledge and understanding of the hospital participants. Finally, the study shows how AHP allows resolution of the conflicting decision criteria that a modern hospital must consider when making capital equipment decisions that affect medical care by pairwise comparisons of the importance of each criteria.

The field of Health Systems Engineering is a broad, multidisciplinary field, incorporating the traditional biomedical engineering disciplines with others, like computer systems engineering, management engineering, industrial engineering, and civil engineering. Health systems engineering focuses on solving the complex problems of the changing health system in areas such as: A) Defective designs and processes that cause ever more and more medical errors, B) Reducing the huge amounts of wasted time and material in the health care delivery process, C) Designing systems to deal with information and clinical technology convergence, D) Reducing clinician information overload using AI, DSS, and expert systems, E) Designing and supporting new, emerging technologies that integrate devices, nanodevices, drug, biologics, and information technologies, such as medical informatics and bioinformatics, to effectively solve new health challenges.

The health care delivery system is rapidly becoming more chaotic and demanding. It is expanding into telemedicine, telehealth, and eHealth, and technologies are being created to allow medical diagnosis and care at almost any delivery site. Physicians, nurses, administrators, and policy makers are demanding competent engineering approaches that help them solve the new and challenging problems that continue to emerge. HTA is a complex problem shared by virtually every health delivery program, and AHP can be used as part of an overall health systems engineering solution.

Elliot B. Sloane, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Information of Decision and Information Systems at Villanova University, is a biomedical / clinical engineer and information scientist with a many years of experience in industry and education. He earned his bachelor's degree at Cornell University's College of Engineering (Ithaca, NY), majoring in the biomedical engineering discipline, via their multidisciplinary College Program, his master's degree in electrical engineering from Drexel University, and, more recently, his Ph.D. at Drexel University's College of Information Science and Technology. Dr. Sloane is the Immediate Past President of the American College of Clinical Engineering, and he has twice held the office of President of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (Montgomery County, PA Chapter).

Dr. Sloane has been in the healthcare technology and information technology fields for over 27 years. He originally worked at the Emergency Care Research Institute for 15 years, where, as vice president of laboratory operations, he was responsible for medical device evaluations, accident investigations, international training, regulatory programs, and all information systems design and development. He then spent 10 years as a vice president for MEDIQ/PRN Life Support Services, Inc., where he was responsible for nationwide medical equipment manufacturing, service, support, pharmaceutical and supplies distribution, regulatory compliance, and quality assurance. Since May of 2000, he has been an assistant professor of decision and information systems at Villanova University, and his selected recent healthcare technology, information system, and management publishing and research activities can be reviewed at his academic web site: < >

Dr. Sloane maintains an active collaboration portfolio with manufacturers and healthcare providers, performing selected engineering and information technology consulting services to various medical device, pharmaceutical, biologics, and healthcare organizations in areas that align with his research and publishing efforts. For the past two decades, he has frequently been called on to serve as both a faculty member and a healthcare technology and medical informatics consultant in Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Western Europe. In the past four years alone, he has participated in diverse projects in Barbados, Bulgaria, Cuba, Germany, Mongolia, Moldova, Nepal, and Romania on behalf of intergovernmental and humanitarian agencies, including Carelift International, the Pan American Health Organization, and the World Health Organization. Dr. Sloane is frequently invited as a presenter, panel chair, and track co-chair at national and regional clinical engineering and information technology conferences, such as AAMI and HIMSS, and he also advises the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership on regional business investments for biomedical technology programs.

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