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Making workplaces safer and more productive

Mohammad KhasawhehMohammad Khasawneh knows from personal experience that visits to a hospital emergency room can turn into marathon waits. His experiences have inspired him to find ways to shorten wait times in the ER.

Self-described “problem solver” Mohammad Khasawneh, professor of systems science and industrial engineering at the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, has spent too much time in emergency rooms. Once in 2001, a cut on his hand turned into a 6-1/2 hour, middle-of-the-night ordeal. In 2007, Khasawneh made several nighttime visits with a sick child that lasted six hours each. His story is not unique. Among colleagues, friends, students and acquaintances, nearly everyone has had similarly “excruciating” ER experiences. To Khasawneh, this suggests a systemic problem that desperately needs solving.

Khasawneh, who serves as assistant director for health systems at the Watson Institute for Systems Excellence (WISE), has turned exasperation into inspiration. Utilizing the tools and principals of industrial and systems engineering, he and his WISE colleagues are currently analyzing all components of an emergency room – humans, equipment, machines, information systems -- as well as the support provided by the physical and organizational environment. Results should identify ways to make all emergency room systems and personnel more efficient, thereby improving the overall safety and satisfaction of the ER staff while maximizing the quality and safety of patient care and minimizing the length of time spent by patients from the moment they enter the ER until they walk out the door.

It’s just this type of study that Khasawneh knows can have a direct, positive impact on people’s lives, “If my research and the resulting systems efficiencies reduce the time spent in the ER for each patient by even half an hour, I feel I’ve done a good thing,” he says.

If Khasawneh’s ongoing research in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory bears fruit, he’ll end up doing many good things. “Our major focus is to make the workplace healthier, safer and more productive,” he says. To do so, scientists and students utilize the most sophisticated virtual human modeling software available, putting them at the forefront of ergonomics research for manufacturing, aerospace and health-care systems.

Need a creative solution to reduce workplace injury and chronic pain among surgeons, sonographers and paramedics? No problem. Khasawneh and his team have it covered.

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Last Updated: 11/26/13