Healthcare Engineering (HcE)

An innovative system developed by Prof. Juan Wachs allows doctors to browse electronic records using hand gestures. The system can help reduce infections and contamination in the operating room by browsing MRI images using a touch-less interface.

Healthcare is the largest industry in the world, responding to the needs of millions of people. The United States is at the forefront of this global industry, leading the way in many fields of clinical research, training, and practice. However, numerous challenges face the American healthcare system. These include accessibility, safety, and cost effectiveness of the care.

National healthcare legislation passed by Congress in 2010 was designed to meet some of these complex challenges. Ideally, the implementation steps of this legislation will include application of the engineering methods that have proven so successful in other industrial problem areas. The importance of utilizing these methods was recognized in the 2005 joint statement by the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.    

This system allows physicians to use natural and intuitive head movements to move the virtual endoscopic camera, freeing their hands to perform a procedure or other functions.

The Purdue College of Engineering responded to this joint statement by collaborating with the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering (RCHE) in the establishment of the Healthcare Engineering Signature Area (HcESA). The development of this signature area pinpointed the need for a categorization and assessment of the Healthcare Engineering (HcE) expertise both at Purdue and The Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSOM) . In addition it also demonstrated the need for the acquisition of needed research capability by addition of faculty, facilities, equipment and collaborative arrangements with other institutions.

The HcESA is currently directed by a committee. This group was originally selected because it represented Purdue HcE Thrust Areas. These have evolved as the signature area has matured.

Thrust Areas

Click on the links below to learn more about a specific area or to find contact information. Sign up to join the database of the Healthcare Engineering Network for funding opportunities, possibilities for partnerships and cutting-edge technology dissemination.

Assistive Technology, currently the signature area’s primary focus involves a broad range of treatment devices and protocols designed to assist individuals who are disabled as the result of birth defects, injury, illness or aging. Research activities may involve a comprehensive approach or one more narrowly focused on a specific organ, body system, disease state or disability, with the goal of developing innovative devices and sensors to help individuals with disabilities carry out daily and professional activities as their able-bodied peers.

Healthcare Construction Facility Design and Environmental Management includes all things related to healthcare facility design and encompasses laboratory as well as patient care structures.

Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols is a new area of interest concentrating on the design and implementation of the methods used for diagnosing and treating various health disorders.

Medical Imaging refers to the broad area of visualizing the human body and its functions. It includes visualization, processing, rendering, segmentation, analysis, and interaction with techniques used in radiology, such as magnetic resonance imaging.

Patient Informatics generally refers to the patient electronic medical record – how it is generated, stored, transmitted, and how the doctor interacts with this information.

Perception-Based Engineering studies the problems associated with human interaction with devices and the environment, from vision to haptics.

Pharmaceuticals concentrates on the medications that are prescribed for disease treatment.

Healthcare Systems Engineering involves the application of engineering principles, specifically systems analysis, to the entire healthcare field which includes basic medical science, device and protocol development and product delivery.

Healthcare Delivery concentrates on the actual provision of healthcare. By nature this is a very broad area that necessitates its own organizational structure. This is in the form of:

The Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering which concentrates on the operations, processes and systems involved in the actual delivery of healthcare. RCHE and the HcE Signature Area have a collaborative relationship, with the signature area director serving in the RCHE executive team.

A modern medical imaging facility

Clinical Partners and Living Laboratories

All successful HcE research requires collaboration with partners in the healthcare profession and clinical environments. A wide range of partnerships have been established with healthcare discipline at Purdue as well as with Indiana hospitals and clinics:

Purdue Healthcare Disciplines:

Indiana Healthcare Partnerships thru RCHE

Any researcher interested in being added to the data base of the Healthcare Engineering Signature Area (HcESA) may do so by submitting the HcESA Data Base form.