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ISyE NEWS : The Industrial & Systems Engineering Department Newsletter


Featured articles

Celebrating 25 years of quality research

New computational models for decision support

QRM Center partners with Phoenix Products

ISyE Industrial Advisory Board

E-business alliance with Wisconsin manufacturers

Beyond the classroom: Teah Gant

Beyond the classroom: William Hochschild

Regular Features

Message from the Chair

Department News

Student News


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Celebrating 25 years of quality research

CQPI researchers and students celebrate the center's anniversary at an event on April 30.

CQPI researchers and students celebrate the center's anniversary at an event
on April 30, 2010.

Decorative initial cap T he offices of the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement (CQPI) are housed in the Engineering Centers Building on the UW-Madison campus, but the center’s real work happens in hospitals, intensive care units and other healthcare settings around the country. Over the last 25 years, CQPI has grown into an interdisciplinary research group that applies human factors and systems engineering principles to healthcare, computer and information security and other work processes.

Founded in 1985 by Professor Emeritus George E.P. Box and the late Professor William G. Hunter, CQPI was revolutionary from the start for its emphasis on finding quality not only in finished products, but also in the processes leading to products and services. Initially focused on manufacturing quality, CQPI faculty demonstrated a commitment early on to community outreach-oriented work. In the 1980s, the center was involved in setting up the first quality and productivity assessment in city government, and, among many other community projects, center faculty worked with the Madison Police Department to find ways to better deliver law enforcement services to the public.

“CQPI was a huge change in how people thought about quality and methods for analyzing and monitoring quality,” says Procter & Gamble Bascom Professor in Total Quality Pascale Carayon, who has been the director of CQPI since 2000. “The center has become known throughout the United States as where people have developed a lot of new ideas and models.”

Each CQPI director since Box has steered the center toward different, important process and quality challenges in a variety of industries. When Carayon took over, she guided CQPI toward healthcarebased issues, which is mainly what the center now addresses. Carayon has also overseen the transition of center personnel from mainly engineering and statistics researchers to include experts in healthcare and psychology, as well as partners from disciplines across UW-Madison.

Currently, more than 30 interdisciplinary researchers and graduate students are affiliated with the center on a variety of projects. Scientists Peter Hoonakker and Ann Schoofs Hundt are part of a team studying the implementation of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems in hospital intensive care units.

As a technology designed to offer clinical-decision support, CPOE is used to reduce medical errors. For example, computerized orders help avoid dispensing errors that can come from misreading handwritten physician orders.

The technology can increase patient safety, but CPOE also is changing clinical workflows — and those changes can have unintended consequences. One example is antibiotic ordering; while CPOE cuts down on the amount of time to order these medications, it doesn’t address delays in the process of actually administering the medication to patients. CQPI researchers are studying how to adapt workflows to take full advantage of the technology and, more generally, how to implement CPOE most effectively in individual hospitals.

In addition to various healthcare-related projects, including projects funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Defense, among other national agencies, CQPI researchers are applying human factors engineering to computer security. “The process is the same,” says Hoonakker, comparing the CQPI healthcare and security projects. “We talk to people about the reasons behind what people do. So how should engineers develop systems that take human capabilities and limitations into account?”

Ultimately, Carayon says the center’s basic idea of looking at process challenges means the center will never run out of problems to study in collaboration with partners from many industries. “Quality and process improvement is something that is needed everywhere,” she says.

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Copyright 2010 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

Date last modified: Monday, 13-September-2010
Date created: 13-September-2010



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