Three Clemson researchers were awarded $797K by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate how the use of mobile technology can improve coordination in perioperative services. The total award for the two universities is $1.4 million.

The Clemson researchers are part of a statewide team that includes two faculty at the University of South Carolina. The researchers will use artificial intelligence and data analytics to improve coordination in perioperative services at three hospitals: Greenville Memorial Hospital, Palmetto Health Richland in the Columbia area and the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

The Clemson principal investigators include Kevin Taaffe and co-investigators Joel Greenstein, both professors in the industrial engineering department, and Larry Fredendall, a professor of management in the College of Business and Behavioral Science. The team will share research findings with Health Sciences South Carolina and the S.C. Hospital Association. Their work also will be used in health care-training simulations to improve coordination among staff.

“As a nation, we must find ways to reduce health care costs without sacrificing quality of care,” Taaffe said. “There are many interrelated services medical staff provide, and our role as researchers is to present options in real-time to these care providers.”

Each patient’s surgery experience is different depending on the nature of procedure, and very often it includes numerous interactions with individuals across multiple departments involved in providing perioperative services. One key focus of this research will be assisting staff in prioritizing tasks to ensure quality of care while ensuring efficient patient flow.

As part of the research, the team will develop a “smart app” to assist data gathering to create an artificial intelligence that runs mobile apps in hospitals. One concern for the team is to create an app that is accepted by all stakeholders in their day to day activities.

“The smart app cannot distract staff from their focus on patient care,” Greenstein said. “The information we display must be easy to understand and act upon.”

The proposal is to create a framework using a combination of mobile technology, learning systems, data analytics, education and training. The ultimate objective is to enhance cooperation and coordination between staff within and across perioperative departments.

In addition, the smart app and simulation model will provide the team with teaching and training tools that can be used in classrooms at Clemson to teach students information and workflow management techniques across a variety of fields, including business, engineering, science and health care.