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Health Systems Engineering Expert Returns to Industrial Engineering

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Paul Griffin, an expert in health systems engineering, will return to the Penn State Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) as a professor on Aug. 15. He is also a co-hire of the Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse (CCSA) within the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI).

Griffin served as the Peter and Angela Dal Pezzo Chair and head of the department from 2009 to 2014. He departed the University to join Georgia Tech as the Virginia C. and Joseph C. Mello Chair in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Griffin served in this role until 2017, at which time he moved to Purdue University to serve as the St. Vincent Health Chair and director of the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering (RCHE).

“I am excited to return to Penn State because I miss working with the IME faculty and students, plus I love the State College area,” Griffin said. “I am also eager to join CCSA as they are helping to identify where engineering and technology researchers can help fill the gaps for social scientists. In order to solve complex societal problems, you need to be connected with a broader research community.”

The return of Griffin to the IME faculty highlights the department’s push for interdisciplinary collaboration. Via his dual appointment with SSRI, he will focus his research on health systems engineering and care delivery, health analytics, cost effectiveness modeling in public health and health supply chain coordination. In particular, Griffin is interested in mitigating the negative consequences of opioids and related substances.

Ling Rothrock, interim department head and professor, said that he is honored to welcome Griffin back to IME.

“He has had a transformational impact in Purdue University’s Regenstrief Center for Health Care Engineering,” Rothrock said. “His research focusing on the disparities of health care access in rural and low-income populations sheds light on policy-level mitigation strategies and makes him a great fit for IME and CCSA.”

His current work with RCHE aims to help mitigate substance abuse using a community-wide systems approach. In particular, the RCHE group focuses on improving patient care for opioid addiction treatment and referral management, integrating heath information technology and supporting analytics, public health evaluation, modeling syringe services programs and developing point of care technologies. Their work is funded by several agencies including the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Griffin’s work has implications for patient care and public health policy. Griffin explained that health care systems are complex and have many moving parts.

“There are a variety of entities that make up these systems like triage, emergency departments and intensive care units,” Griffin said. “I want to know how these work together and what happens when you make a change. It’s not just the providers that play a role in patient care, so how can these systems be improved?”

Stephanie Lanza, professor of biobehavioral health and director of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, serves as CCSA’s interim director. Lanza explained that Griffin is a critical new hire for CCSA.

“CCSA is focused on novel, interdisciplinary solutions to the systemic problems of substance use,” Lanza said. “His focus on health systems analytics will bring new research perspectives to Penn State’s efforts, and he will provide important leadership to the consortium’s efforts moving forward.”

Griffin is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and serves as co-chair of the bi-annual INFORMS Healthcare Conference. He received his doctorate in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University.

This article originally appeared in Penn State Engineering News.

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