Study: Hey healthcare community, hire some engineers!

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The U.S. healthcare industry has paid dearly for not making better use of engineering strategies and certain technologies that have been used by other industries to revolutionize the way they operate, according to a new report from the National Academies' National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine.

Further, the report states that this under-use of 'systems-engineering tools,' which are used to efficiently design and control sophisticated systems, has contributed to the current state of the healthcare system with its high rates of preventable deaths, inefficiency, outdated procedures, and due to rising costs, the large number of uninsured citizens.

Why has this happened? The authors of the study blame cultural and organizational trends within healthcare organization which sometimes prevent healthcare professionals from seeing themselves as part of larger complex healthcare systems, and how technology might help them. Simultaneously, the study says, engineers need to grasp the unique complexities faced by healthcare organizations.

How to alleviate the problem? The study recommends that the government and private-sector speed up the implementation of the National Health Information Infrastructure, which is a 10-year initiative originally developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Also, up-and-coming technologies such as wireless communication and microelectronics could also improve patient care.

The study also recommends sweeping changes to how healthcare professionals are trained so that they have access to multidisciplinary studies which would include engineering, health sciences, management, and social and behavioral sciences.