“Posters” research draws state lawmakers’ interest
University of Wisconsin-Parkside business students Chris McMahon and Trevor Severson's research titled "Improving Healthcare Delivery in the Department of Corrections" presented March 7 during Posters in the Rotunda grabbed the attention of Wisconsin legislators. Working with Business Professor Dr. Abey Kuruvilla, the students' findings presented ways the DOC could significantly reduce the time it takes inmates to see a healthcare provider.
The researchers analyzed current procedures, identified waste in the process, and adopted "lean" approaches to recommend value added steps at every juncture. Their recommendations, if implemented, could save Wisconsin millions of dollars every year on everything from printed forms to lawsuits. The project was a community engagement activity as part of Dr. Kuruvilla's Undergraduate Operations Management course.
The research generated significant interest among those who viewed McMahon's and Severson's poster. Twenty-first District Sen. Van Wanggard said he would talk personally to the Secretary of State and DOC Secretary Gary Hamblin to move the project forward to be adopted at the state level. Calling this an excellent project, Wanggard felt it was a win-win situation and would greatly improve efficiency. He applauded the research group for their work.
James Greer, the DOC's director of health services, felt the research brought attention to issues of inefficiencies in the system. Greer said the cost incurred to treat just the HIV-positive patients in the current system, would pay for implementing the new system. Rep. Roger Rivard, of the 75th Assembly Dist., who has a business background, said from a business perspective, it would be a no-brainer to implement an electronic system as our students proposed.
Both 22nd Dist. Sen. Bob Wirch and 62nd Dist. Rep. Cory Mason appreciated the undergraduate research work done at UW-Parkside and offered all possible help to move the project to implementation. Wirch later requested a presentation of the project in his Capitol office. All of the state legislators and officials who viewed the poster requested copies of it and of the students' presentation.
UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford personally congratulated the group and spoke of this project being an "excellent example of the work of our undergraduate students at UW Parkside." She added that many inefficient government systems could learn from this project.
Congratulating Chris, Trevor, and Dr Kuruvilla, UW-Parkside Provost Terry Brown said she appreciated the, "wonderful poster presentation at Posters in the Rotunda. I was so impressed with how professional your students were in the presentation of their work. Their poster was beautifully designed. I was also impressed with their laptop presentation."
Both Ford and Brown offered help from their respective offices to move the project forward.
The students' research also was mentioned in UW System President Kevin Reilly's report to the Board of Regents.
Chris McMahon returned to Madison on March 27 to present the group's research findings to the state health service staff. This project will also be featured during the 12th annual UW System Symposium on Undergraduate Research here on campus April 27.
Professor Kuruvilla, who has worked with students on more than 150 community-engaged projects at UW Parkside in the past four years, called this one of the best.
"Chris and Trevor looked at a problem of inefficiency, understood its challenges, and implemented the theory they learned to add value at every step of the process, resulting in an outstanding project, that, if applied, has major implications for the State of Wisconsin," Dr. Kuruvilla said. "Similar models could be applied in any process to improve efficiency and it speaks to the high quality of education they receive at UW-Parkside. I am very proud of them."When the statewide student research symposium convenes later this month at UW-Parkside, Chris McMahon and Trevor Severson will be the stars of the program. They are already popular in Madison.