Streamlining Hospitals to Work Smarter Not Harder

Headshot of Elizabeth GentryAn alumnus of the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering Department of Industrial Engineering, Dr. Elizabeth Gentry splits her time between her career as a consultant and her work as a long-distance educator. Working under Interim Dean Dr. Gail Depuy, Gentry completed her coursework with a PhD in 2013. From there, Gentry moved to Dallas to work for Christus Health, where she remains employed, complimentary professions to one another both in terms of research and application of her knowledge.

Health & Efficiency

Her interest in Industrial Engineering came honestly, by virtue of her interest in statistical data.

She explains, “I am a big sports nerd, my grandpa would always take me to the Redbirds games and he taught me how to take statistics. When I got into engineering, I knew I wanted to do something in healthcare. I started figuring out what I wanted to do with it. IE seemed great, because they need a lot of process improve. Healthcare hires a lot of Industrial Engineers. I love that we use statistics to analyze.”

For Gentry, Industrial Engineering represents an opportunity to streamline operations in an effort for increased efficiency. Where a baseball coach looks at their players’ stats to determine an optimal lineup, Gentry studies ways to enhance a system by making sure that all advantages are considered and deficiencies discarded.

“I like to look at Process Improvement in ERs. You used to go to ERs and ORs and get scrubbed up and go in and actually observe the surgery to be able to do time studies to determine what were the holdups. Just watching different things like that. Sometimes, it’s just simple things like a patient wasn’t supposed to eat past midnight, but then they ate something because it wasn’t on their chart. Just logistical things. That’ll hold up all the surgeries,” says Gentry.

Staying Connected

As an adherent to Six Sigma, a formal technique meant to aid with time management, Gentry keeps a tight schedule. As such, her coursework is online only, a challenge that yields reward by way of new experiences and unique student interactions.

“There is a huge difference in online versus in class. I always teach the first class that most people take. It’s setting a lot of boundaries. I have them do discussion boards every week. It’s an engineering management class, so it can be from any engineering or hard science degree. We have a lot of military people who are working overseas. The discussion board is great, because people are coming from all different backgrounds,” says Gentry.

In addition to an already stacked schedule, Gentry is a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers Young Professionals, and chair of the Society for Health Systems Young Professionals and Marketing Leadership for the Institute of Industrial Engineers Young Professionals. Both feature Industrial Engineering professionals, aged 25-35.

“It’s cool to talk to people in all different fields. When we have monthly meetings, it’s cool to get their insights into what’s going on,” says Gentry.