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DCE Magazine

Managing Miracles

Summer 2017

Dramatic healthcare breakthroughs require innovative project managers.

By any measure, the healthcare industry is on the brink of unprecedented challenges, even in the face of medical and technological breakthroughs that offer exciting and hopeful new treatment options.

Consider the sweeping changes implemented by the Affordable Care Act that current political turmoil seeks to unravel. At the same time, nascent technology like 3D printers, Artificial Intelligence and robotics is poised for evolutionary leaps that will alter how medicine is delivered and healthcare is administered.

Such serious disruptions will clearly require innovative management to coordinate all the moving parts of this massive and crucial industry. And that means big opportunities for anyone seeking a career in healthcare project management.

“The healthcare field has many opportunities for project managers as it grows and changes,” said Marty Wartenberg, award-winning UCI Division of Continuing Education project management instructor and independent consultant. “Healthcare delivery is a complex system combining the human element with technology and best practices. The field is rapidly changing and new applications will completely change how healthcare is delivered and managed.”

Innovating the future

Healthcare is indeed poised for exponential leaps into the future — and in many ways, the future is now, said Larry Stofko, executive vice president of the Innovation Institute, a leading-edge developer of new products, services and ideas — sort of a “Shark Tank” for healthcare entrepreneurs.

Already, telemedicine allows patients from remote rural areas to have instant access to physician care, significantly reducing ER visits, mortality rates and healthcare expenses. Sophisticated 3D printers are bioprinting artificial human parts like heart valves and ears, as well as bionic arms and legs. And Big Data is being mined at lightning speed by supercomputers such as IBM Watson to provide “the most accurate diagnostic information and previously untapped insights,” Stofko said.

“We are approaching a world where quantum computing with its parallel-computing capabilities will solve multiple healthcare problems simultaneously,” he said.

Robotics is another field that promises to reshape the industry in especially impactful ways, Stofko said. “Robots are great and we see them as having a beneficial impact. We already see them packaging and administering medication, treating stroke victims and helping to perform medical procedures.”

Providing added dimensions to healthcare, Artificial Reality and Virtual Reality serve as supplemental technology that will continue to evolve well into the future, he said. Wearables like Google Glass are adding an extra digital layer of text and images to enhance the capabilities of physicians and other healthcare professionals. Who knows where this technology will lead?

“A mixture of Big Data, Internet of Things, and wearable computing like Google Glass and HoloLens will not only play an important role, they will become the norm in connecting people with the information they need to create more precise and intimate patient treatments and interactions,” Stofko said.

With technology taking over so many facets of the industry, an estimated 47% of jobs will be displaced by 2025, according to a recent Oxford study. Project managers will need to be increasingly tech-savvy, yet the human element will become more essential than ever.

After all, real people will be needed to incorporate these innovations into healthcare delivery systems. And UCI DCE is poised to deliver state-of-the-art training that addresses the challenges in a number of ways.

“It will take highly trained professionals with all of the backgrounds that are covered in our various DCE programs to develop and operate these systems,” Wartenberg stressed.

Certified success

UCI offers a wide range of business, engineering and IT programs that can shape a well-rounded background in healthcare project management. Of particular relevance are the Business Analyst and Innovation & Product Development programs, Wartenberg said.

“The business analyst function teaches the methods of deter mining what the actual needs are and then translating these into detailed requirements that can be implemented,” he said. “And the obvious tie-in of our IT programs is a natural fit. Other major areas that have become popular for healthcare delivery organizations are the use of Lean and Lean Six Sigma methods to improve the delivery process and reduce the number of errors that are rampant in this field.”

DCE's Six Sigma Lean programs train project managers to master complexities that can be especially consequential in healthcare, helping to prevent mistakes that lead to 300,000 to 400,000 unnecessary deaths each year caused by misdiagnoses, wrong medication or dosage, and other factors. “That's the equivalent of a packed 747 crashing every day,” Wartenberg said. “Patients go into the hospital with one problem and something unrelated causes their death. Six Sigma Lean trains to evaluate and eliminate potential causes of mistakes — idiot-proof all the processes, in a sense.”

Also, a forthcoming Lean Healthcare specialization, will prepare healthcare professionals to influence change by identifying and removing non-value added activities — the waste in time, money, supplies and goodwill — in any healthcare organization that otherwise hide in plain view.

A new Internet of Things program, still in the pipeline, would provide solid background for managing high-tech hospital monitoring networks, which link a new generation of wearable tech devices that monitor and track medical conditions, effects of treatment, and other factors.

“Nurses, for instance, use monitor watches for their patients, and each needs to be connected to its own equipment,” Wartenberg said. “Hospitals have a lot of high-tech equipment, but devices from each manufacturer have their own way of ‘talking’ to one another. Project managers need to learn to build dedicated hubs and networks that connect each type of wearable.”

For those interested, the best strategy is to start with a business and/or IT specialization, then cap it off with a the following Applied Project Management certificate — a path similar to getting an MBA following an undergraduate degree. And DCE's Applied Project Management program — taught by leading industry professionals — is especially coveted among the Orange County business community.

“All of the DCE instructors involved have practical and up-to-date experience in the areas they teach,” Wartenberg said. “All are experts who consult or work full-time in their areas of subject matter expertise.”

Learn more about the Project Management Certificate Program.