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How WPI is Reinventing Healthcare in Mass.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Patricia Mabry of the National Institutes of Health gave the symposium's keynote address.

Unique and technology driven ideas for healthcare reform were on display at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s 2nd Annual Aspinwall Symposium yesterday.

This year’s symposium, entitled “System Driven Insights for Reinventing Healthcare Delivery,” focused on using modern technology and improved communication to increase efficiency and decrease costs inside the healthcare system. The Healthcare Delivery Institute (HDI) at WPI hosted the event, which featured keynote speaker Patricia Mabry, senior advisor at the National Institutes of Health.

WPI is known as one of the nation’s premier engineering schools, and Mabry believes the symposium offered the perfect opportunity to apply the principles of engineering to healthcare.

“We use engineering approaches to study an entire system, like the healthcare system,” Mabry said. “It’s an approach that looks at how an entire system works, and how the different parts of a system interact with each other, much more than a traditional model for reviewing it.”

Professionals from numerous healthcare companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, EMC Corporation, HealthWyse and IBM attended the event. The HDI hopes to work with these companies to reinvent healthcare at all levels, from the hospital, to the clinic and mobile delivery units. To do this, the HDI breaks down each piece of the healthcare system, and analyzes how it impacts every other. By making one part of the system more streamlined and efficient, the HDI believes it can affect the entire system.

Working Together

One theme that was repeated throughout the day was that of interdisciplinary cooperation. David Dimond, a national healthcare professional with EMC Consulting, believes the symposium offers a great opportunity for that cooperation, and that applying redesign strategies from different disciplines will help the companies in attendance push healthcare forward.

“WPI has a vision. What it takes is collaboration to make it work,” Dimond said. “There will be a blueprint for opportunity, a roadmap for the future for organizations that participate in the symposium.”


Founded in the fall of 2011 by four WPI faculty members, the HDI has focused on reinventing the healthcare delivery system for the future. It has worked to provide companies with new ideas for mobile and wireless clinical solutions, health information technologies, care delivery modeling and redesign, and analyzing the healthcare system as a whole.

“Our goal is to grow partnerships to deliver high-quality care wherever patients may be,” Vera Tice, managing director of the HDI, said. “We look forward to working together to make this a reality.”

The symposium showcased posters from numerous undergrad students that broke down different aspects of the healthcare system, from sending patients information wirelessly so that they can make informed decisions, to breaking down how doctors interact with the rest of the healthcare industry. The symposium was an all-day event, beginning with Mabry’s keynote address around 2 pm and ending at 7 pm.


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