By Michael Hughes
More than you ask for
About three years ago, IIE took in the bedraggled gentleman on the left, cleaned him up and made him managing editor. Not long after, he discovered that industrial engineers often go well beyond the established parameters of competency.
A first glance at the magazine deadlines ahead, combined with the material in hand, led me to believe that there was no way to get the next issues of Industrial Engineer and Industrial Management magazines done in time.
But an amazing thing happened. Staff members and magazine contributors not only did what they said they would do, but they did it ahead of time. If we needed one photo, we got five. If an IE said she would send us an article in three weeks, we received it in two. If I had six questions for an interview subject, one or two inquiries elicited 10 to 15 answers.
Hey, it’s much easier to get folks to talk about things they like when you’re not grilling them about the latest shenanigans of politicians, lawyers and tax commissioners. Now if only I could get my internal work processes to mirror the efficiency of, say, the great Kevin McManus instead of your average newspaper employee.
Which in a roundabout way leads us to this month’s cover story, “Staffing for Patients, Not Beds," by Amanda Mewborn, Roger Gruneisen, Jared Davis and Jack Lin. The team details an analysis that figured out how much staff a hospital needed to serve its patients.
Many studies count the patients, apply a staff-to-patient ratio, deal with benefits and pick a number. But as you’ll find out when you turn to Page 28, this team went deep into the details of the devil. Team members dealt with union vs. nonunion vs. contractor employee issues, measured the acuity distribution of patients, examined staff flexibility – and the lack thereof – refined competency models for all staff members, and even examined appropriate shift lengths.
The result was a comprehensive report that gave administration multiple options to match staffing with its needs. You know, the kind of thing I’ve come to expect from IEs.
For even more ways to use industrial engineering to improve healthcare, check out the Healthcare Systems Improvement Conference from March 1-4 in New Orleans. More details are available at www.shsconference.org.
Michael Hughes is managing editor of IIE. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (770) 349-1110.