Information Sciences and Technology

Speaker: Health care complexity, efficiency need to increase

Students from Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) can play a big role in revitalizing America's health-care systems to make the efficient use of available technology, William Rouse, executive director of the Tennenbaum Institute at Georgia Tech, said Wednesday. Rouse gave the second talk in IST’s 2008-2009 Distinguished Lecture Series, held in the IST Building's Cybertorium.

Rouse said that if health-care delivery systems are made more technically complex, stakeholders in business, government and other areas can have more control over them. With that control, those entities can simplify the systems for end users -- patients and doctors. Rouse gave his cell phone to demonstrate this theory.

"There are 6,000 companies involved in the mobile telephony ecosystem," Rouse said, holding up the phone. "But for me as the end user, all I needed to decide was whether I wanted to buy the product. Health-care choice is not that simple now, but it can be if we make the back-office more complex to allow greater control over the supply chains."

Rouse said each sector of the health-care system currently works independently of each other, with hospitals functioning as separate departments rather than a cohesive unit, creating inefficiency. If these units worked together, the overall system would be able to spend less time on each patient while achieving better results.

"The efficiencies we need are enormous in order to have a health-care enterprise that produces healthy people that contribute to our competitiveness and our mutual well-being and not just people who aren’t sick, which I argue has been the goal up to this point."

IST students are the perfect people to help bring about such as change by working to improve those back-end systems.

"Recently, I've found that thought leaders from health care all over the country have said 'We've got really big problems and we need the help of you systems engineers because what we've been doing isn't working,'" Rouse said. "For those of you interested in this, there is a tremendous opportunity to get involved in solving a major national problem."

A video of Rouse's lecture can be seen on the IST Mediasite.

William Rouse, executive director of Georgia Tech's Tennenbaum Institute, spoke about health care reform Wednesday as part of IST's Distinguished Lecture Series. Credit: Jenna SpinelleAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated November 18, 2010