What is a Management Engineer or Process Improvement Professional?

Process Improvement (PI) professionals bring a wide variety of work experience and educational backgrounds to the job. Their role is to address the design, installation, and improvement of integrated systems of people, material, facilities, information, equipment, and energy.

Management Engineering (ME) is one of the disciplines that falls within the PI realm. According to Dr. Harold Smalley[1], a founding father of HIMSS, Management Engineering is the name commonly given to the industrial engineering discipline when it is applied within healthcare settings. As a subspecialty, it has evolved over the past 30 years to reflect the needs of and the changes in, the healthcare industry and environment. The Management Engineer works collaboratively within the healthcare organization to develop and implement appropriate solutions by drawing “upon specialized knowledge and skill in the mathematical, physical, and social sciences together with the principles and methods of engineering analysis and design.”[2]

Professionals within the PI realm draw from other disciplines as well, providing unique perspectives and skill sets to improvement initiatives and professional knowledge. These include management, business administration, and organization development disciplines that have grown from the Total Quality Management of 20 years ago to today’s Six Sigma and other performance improvement practices.

The disciplines that comprise the PI profession contribute specific expertise, each with its own unique perspective, in achieving enhanced operational and clinical performance. When they collaborate, the organization, its patients, and staff can only benefit from the synergy.

[1] Harold E. Smalley, Hospital Management Engineering, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1982), p. 122.

[2] Institute of Industrial Engineers

About the ME-PI Professional

  • Education
    • MSIE, MHA MBA, MPA, MS or PhD in Business/Operations Management and/or initial clinical background such as RN, MT, RPh, RRA, etc.
    • Industrial Engineering, Management Engineering, Operations Research, Information Technology, and/or Health Systems knowledge
    • Certification in general healthcare and management information systems, project management methods, and/or a specific process improvement methodology (CPHIMS, PMP, SSBB, etc).
  • Skill Set
    • Project management, teaching, coaching, and facilitating
    • Systems/operations analysis and quality/performance improvement
    • Quantitative/qualitative techniques including financial analysis/decision support
    • Forecasting demand
    • Optimizing workload and schedules
    • Apply queuing theory and methods to service delivery decision making, including simulation modeling
    • Using, and teaching others to use, all the problem solving tools of quality management, of great benefit in day-to-day services delivery decision making
    • Performing workflow analysis
    • Teaching and deploying the Lean business improvement method and tools
    • Performing in-depth financial analysis/decision support

Key Practice Skills
Specific skills include:
o Analytical, with a working knowledge of statistical and process improvement tools.
o Ability to effectively work with people within complex, matrix organizations.
o Working knowledge of the quality process, including an understanding of JCAHO/licensing standards and the clinical protocols and clinical outcomes process.
o Working knowledge of hospital organization structure and interrelationships.
o Ability to promote ideas and influence change in a matrix organization.
o Ability to manage the design and implementation of processes/systems.
o Ability to work collaboratively, both with and through individuals.