Health Systems

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 159–164 | Cite as

Integrating systems engineering practice with health-care delivery

  • William V Padula
  • Michael P Duffy
  • Taygan Yilmaz
  • Manish K Mishra
Original Article


Health-care delivery is a complex and fragmented system with work-around culture. Improving health-care delivery requires innovating system interventions that redesign processes for consistent implementation of evidence-based practices (EBPs). Systems engineering is an approach that involves anticipating ineffective processes that jeopardize quality, and designing interventions to overcome such shortcomings. This approach is based on systems teaching about reflexivity, which when addressed can support consistent EBP and assesses how the newly designed system meets this consistency. Integrating a systems engineering approach to implementing EBP may effectively address complex issues such as hospital-acquired pressure ulcer prevention, which has an EBP protocol that is not consistently implemented without system redesign. Engineering approaches and methods including Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA), Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendations (SBAR), stochastic modeling, House of Quality, and statistical process control charts with lean six sigma provide a structured approach to identifying points of successful implementation for EBPs that can subvert work-around culture. This perspective piece reviews successful approaches of systems engineering to solve the problem of clinical work-arounds and puts forward the case for its wider application to health-care delivery systems that could benefit from standardized EBPs.


systems engineering health-care delivery pressure ulcer quality improvement 


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Copyright information

© Operational Research Society Ltd 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • William V Padula
    • 1
  • Michael P Duffy
    • 2
  • Taygan Yilmaz
    • 3
  • Manish K Mishra
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of ChicagoChicagoU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryTechnology Implementation Research Center, Massachusetts General HospitalBostonU.S.A.
  3. 3.Visual Services DepartmentHarvard Vanguard Medical AssociatesBostonU.S.A.
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterLebanonU.S.A.

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