KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study Examines How Much Better Hospitals And Doctors Would Work If They Ran Like Airlines

The National Science Foundation/U.S. News & World Report ask the question: "Airlines protect themselves from passenger 'no-shows' by overbooking. Could the same approach-overbooking patients-work in a doctor's office or hospital?" As part of a study examining such a question, the Center for Health Organization Transformation is looking at projects around the nation where "systems engineering" - the implementation of systems used in other industries - can reduce health care costs. "The center, in part, is being funded with a $290,000 National Science Foundation grant as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. … In recent years, the growing use of a 'checklist'' in hospital facilities, modeled after those routinely used by airline pilots before takeoff, has resulted in a significant reduction in patient harm. The British Medical Journal, for example, recently reported that patient deaths in three London hospitals dropped by 15 percent after introducing the practice." The engineering uses mathematics and statistics to simulate "patient flow, in order to replicate real life situations, and experiment with different ways of doing things, including 'strategic' overbooking" (Cimons, 9/20).

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