A goal of the IHO is to carry out research which supports and guides improvements in the health care delivery system. Our research efforts, such as the development of approaches for patient flow variability management, which serves as the methodological foundation for the Institute’s work, provide a strong theoretical foundation for applying the tools and techniques of operations management science to healthcare delivery. While these tools and techniques have relevance across a broad range of health care delivery settings, successful application cannot be achieved with a cookie-cutter approach. These tools, techniques and methodologies must be tailored to the appropriate setting and their application refined to take into account unique aspects of an individual health care delivery system.
The historical absence of operations management in health care delivery creates an upside of enormous opportunities. We have only scratched the surface when it comes to realizing and demonstrating the substantial gains that can be achieved by applying operations management science in not only hospital care delivery, but in the numerous other settings in which health care is provided. These settings include non-acute care hospitals and rehabilitation centers, primary and specialty care practices, community health centers, ambulatory surgery centers and emergency medical services providers. We would welcome the opportunity to explore with those who lead and provide care in these settings the benefits and improvements they could achieve through collaboration with the Institute.
Institute faculty will continue to seek out opportunities to perform research that will shed light on policy issues and problems impacting the health care system. The research carried out by Institute faculty was one of the first to establish the link between ED overcrowding and the scheduling of hospital admissions. Our research has also demonstrated the association between short-term variability in inpatient unit census and the scheduling of elective surgeries and how that relationship can drastically impact nursing burden as expressed in patient to nurse ratios (PNR). We welcome collaborations in these areas as well.