Engineering a Solution to America's Health Care Woes

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 General News J E 4

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 The problems plaguing U.S. healthcare are driving research engineers to devise helpful innovations for everything from hospital nursing stations to diagnostic scanners, Prism magazine reports in its October issue.

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Prompted by healthcare's spiraling costs, and the millions of Americans lacking health insurance, engineers are joining other experts from outside the medical field to tackle these problems, according to the cover story in Prism, a prizewinning publication of the American Society for Engineering Education.

"With their problem-solving techniques and technologies -- including mathematical modeling, simulations and data-mining -- engineers are well-positioned to help render healthcare more efficient, effective and affordable," writer Thomas F. Grose states in the article.

Using data-mining techniques, engineers are examining patient records to schedule office visits more efficiently and maximize doctors' time at urban clinics. Among other innovations, engineers are designing a small magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner that costs a fraction of the current price and developing new ways to deliver medical services via phone lines, the Internet or wireless connections. GPS monitoring of nurses' movements has generated ideas on hospital design that would let them spend more time with patients.

A separate article in the new issue of Prism details the positions and likely policies of the two U.S. presidential candidates on science, technology and education. Both men would bring significant change from current White House policies, concludes writer Guy Gugliotta, but their approaches are sometimes markedly different.

SOURCE American Society for Engineering Education


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