Health Care Systems Engineering

Health care systems engineering is an area of research in health care delivery science that examines system and process design. Researchers in health care systems engineering seek to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and improve access and overall quality of health care.

The Health Care Systems Engineering Program in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery brings together expertise from data-driven and mathematical sciences as well as human-focused sciences. Together, these researchers provide solutions to today's complex health care problems.

The major fields of study in the Health Care Systems Engineering Program are:

  • Human factors engineering and systems integration
  • Information and decision engineering

In human factors engineering and systems integration, scientists use ergonomics and organization science to identify and correct incompatibilities among people, technology and work environments. Research focuses on improving technologies and systems to be as effective as possible within the physical and psychological limitations of humans.

Information and decision engineering is based on data-driven and mathematical sciences, including operations research, statistics, informatics, management and computational sciences. Scientists focus on quantitative evaluation and modeling of processes and systems of health care. They work to identify the best possible ways to deliver care and to build the evidence base for data-driven decision-making.

The mission of the Health Care Systems Engineering Program is to solve health care problems that no one else can. Center researchers work with clinicians, collaborators and patients to identify and solve problems that are relevant today. They use scientific engineering methodology to create solutions to complex health care problems and improve quality of life.

The program carries out its mission by:

  • Identifying practice stakeholders within and outside Mayo Clinic and establishing long-term research collaborations
  • Leveraging scientific knowledge to transform health care delivery
  • Sharing knowledge between the health care and systems engineering communities
  • Educating health care practitioners about systems engineering and engineering students about health care
  • Leading the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery's Clinical Engineering Learning Laboratories initiative

Improvements in safety, access to care, efficiency and satisfaction contribute to Mayo Clinic's ability to be a leader in providing patient-centered health care. Importantly, health care providers also benefit from safer, more efficient health care delivery.

Areas of focus

Research in the Health Care Systems Engineering Program is centered on the following areas of focus:

  • Understanding risk factors for and indicators of decreased health for patients who are hospitalized and developing and implementing tools to improve care processes
  • Improving teamwork and safety in the operating room
  • Improving patients' access to health care
  • Reducing burdens on staff with better planning and resource utilization
  • Examining the workload in the surgical suite and proposing and testing interventions to optimize task performance and staff well-being
  • Understanding the usability of medical equipment and its optimal impact
  • Embedding research in practice through clinical engineering labs to ensure research has relevance and practice changes are informed based on scientific rigor


The operating room of the future

Human factors engineering and systems integration projects improve teamwork and safety in the operating room. Health care systems engineers at Mayo Clinic address physical and cognitive workload issues to increase efficiency, quality, and clinician and patient safety and satisfaction. They lead research on the operating room of the future as part of Mayo Clinic's Surgery Research Center.

OR-Stretch Program

Recent surveys have shown that about half of practicing surgeons are concerned that musculoskeletal issues will shorten their careers. The OR-Stretch Program is an intervention for the physical discomfort surgery imposes. It was created in the Human Factors Engineering Laboratory of Susan Hallbeck, Ph.D.

The results of the OR-Stretch Program intervention to reduce intraoperative fatigue and discomfort are being integrated into operating rooms at Mayo Clinic, across the country and around the world.

Read published articles about OR-Stretch on PubMed.

Mayo Clinic OR-Stretch Instructional Video

Improving health care for patients and staff

Information and decision engineering projects have deployed award-winning care delivery discoveries, and demonstrated improvement in practice. Engineered solutions for patients include improved safety and access, and timely and patient-centered care in surgery, emergency medicine, radiology and hospital services. The solutions ensure reduced burden on staff, with better planning and resource utilization.

Making blood transfusions safer

Health care systems engineers at Mayo Clinic employ multiple strategies to enhance the safety and efficacy of blood product transfusion, including:

  • Developing and deploying models to predict adverse reactions prior to transfusion
  • Initiating a clinical trial to directly measure the impact of red blood cell transfusion on home functional status utilizing an innovative mobile health technology solution
  • Identifying patient subgroups with differential response to blood transfusion
  • Developing a clinical algorithmic framework for optimizing patient-specific blood transfusion triggers


Review publications on PubMed from health care systems engineering researchers at Mayo Clinic.


Susan Hallbeck, Ph.D.

  • Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Scientific Director for Health Care Systems Engineering
  • Human Factors Engineering and Systems Integration Research Lead
  • Email:

Kalyan S. Pasupathy, Ph.D.

  • Scientific Director, Clinical Engineering Learning Lab
  • Information and Decision Engineering Lead
  • Email: