Dr. Terry Theman
TAMING VARIANCE IN THE OPERATING ROOM
Surgeons and Engineers have a lot in common. As a surgeon I was a perfectionist. I wanted no surprises in the Operating Room or during the recovery process. Medical “surprises” are unpleasant in addition to being time-consuming to repair.
Of course, it is in the nature of Medicine to be complex and unpredictable, which leads to a certain occurrence of “surprises”. Engineers call this “variance”, and they have the education and tools to manage it. Physicians are not as well prepared to deal with variance. As a result a variety of “band-aid” measures get applied when medical treatments do not go as planned, and the larger ‘Systems Issues’ go unaddressed.
It is the disciplined thought process (as well as a fabulous ‘tool kit’) that sets Engineers apart from most other fields. This attribute permits Engineers to make complex processes function more effectively and efficiently. For this reason I believe that Healthcare Systems Engineering is the key to future improvement in American Healthcare.