The Institute for Child Development (ICD) at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) offers top notch pediatricians, expert guidance and support from caring professionals, and easy access to healthcare and treatment information.
But appointment lead times for patients are becoming a bit cumbersome.
Parents of special needs children already have a lot on their mind to have to go through a difficult process of setting up an appointment for diagnostic and treatment services, so a team of seniors at the School of Systems and Enterprises (SSE) at Stevens Institute of Technology is on board to help improve their operations.
“The ICD at HUMC came to us with a problem that is ideal for our students,” says Stevens professor Eirik Hole, the team's advisor.
Stevens engineering management seniors – Jessica White, Nicholas Russo, Mohammed Al Saud and Caroline DeLuca – are working on a process that enables the ICD at HUMC to get better at reducing appointment lead times, with particular focus in the Developmental Pediatrics department. They developed a simulation model of the ICD’s operation, which will be used to test variation options and provide recommendations to hospital administrators to improve their workflow and enhance patient satisfaction.
The team's senior design project will be on display at this year's Stevens Innovation Expo on May 3.
Teaming up to solve a problem
The project is giving the team an opportunity to work as an outside consulting firm. “I was drawn to the project because it allowed me the chance to assume a consulting role,” says Mohammed Al Saud. “In the real world, certain jobs require more than sitting at a desk, but this experience allows me to see every day operations within a hospital setting. It’s a dynamic work environment.”
Caroline DeLuca points to her time at Stevens as key to preparing her for this senior design project. “A lot of my coursework at SSE, which required group work, has definitely helped me for this consulting project,” she says. “I think the consulting aspect of the project provides a great learning experience because we are not only working for ourselves, but for our client who relies on us.”
“The design courses we take each semester have granted us the ability to learn how to work with each other in a professional manner.”
In their pursuit to find solutions for their client, the team leveraged the modeling and simulation skills they learned in the classroom.
“They got to apply their skills from classes ranging from modeling and simulation to operations management and process engineering in a real life setting with the potential of real impact on the client’s operations,” says Professor Hole.
But the team’s senior design experience extends far beyond the classroom, particularly when it comes to problem solving in the real world.
“They honed their professional skills in developing a relationship with key people in the client organization, managing the project and the team, and tracking down the information they needed to provide a well-founded proposal to the client,” explains Professor Hole.
Russo asserts that there is always a way to succeed. “The project has taught me that sometimes the answers you think you need in order to solve a problem are not always readily available,” he says. “You must not give up, but instead look for ways in which you can draw conclusions through different avenues.”
“The design courses we take each semester have granted us the ability to learn how to work with each other in a professional manner,” says Jessica White. “An innovative approach and creative wiggle room has been essential to team building and problem solving.”
Where to go from here
For the ICD at HUMC, the team’s solution will enable them to improve their data collection and analysis to uncover areas for improved efficiency. And because the team’s simulation is simple to tweak, HUMC can accurately analyze other hospital data to improve efficiency in other areas of operations.
The solution can be implemented across multiple areas. Not only does the solution allow them to look at different scenarios when handling their resources, but it also gives them a better understanding of when customers feel dissatisfied, according to the team.
This understanding of ensuring pleasant customers experiences will go a long way for ICD, as well as the SSE students as they pursue their careers.
Two members of the team, DeLuca and White, are ready to launch their professional careers right after graduation. DeLuca has a data analytics job lined up at a consulting company in Manhattan, New York. And White plans to work as a process engineer for the world’s leading company in taste and nutrition serving the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. “It’s a new and interesting industry for me,” she says excitedly.
Pursuing a graduate degree is a key aim for Al Saud, but he wants to obtain more professional work experience before returning to school.
As for Russo, he plans to work in a project management role in the New York City area. But in the near term, he plans on returning to Stevens to pursue his master’s degree in systems engineering.