Distinguished Lecture - Using Process Definition and Analysis Techniques to Reduce Errors and Improve Efficiency in the Delivery of Healthcare

Location: 2150 Torgersen Hall
Date: Friday, April 19, 2013
Time:  11:15am-12:30pm
This talk is open to the general public.



Lori A. Clarke
Leon J. Osterweil
University of Massachusetts, Amherst


As has been widely reported in the news lately, heathcare errors are a major cause of death and suffering, and healthcare inefficiencies result in escalating costs. In the University of Massachusetts Medical Safety Project, we are investigating if process definition and analysis technologies can be used to help reduce heathcare errors and improve heathcare efficiency. Specifically, we are modeling healthcare processes using a process definition language and then analyzing these processes using model checking, fault-tree analysis, discrete event simulation, and other analysis techniques. Working with the UMASS School of Nursing and the Baystate Medical Center, we are undertaking in-depth case studies on error-prone and life-critical healthcare processes. In many ways, these processes are similar to complex, distributed systems with many interacting, concurrent threads and numerous exceptional conditions that must be handled carefully. This talk describes the technologies we are using, discusses case studies, and presents our observations and findings to date. Although presented in terms of the healthcare domain, the described approach could be applied to human-intensive processes in other domains to provide a technology-driven approach to process improvement.


Lori A. Clarke is chair the Department of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and co-director of the Laboratory for Advanced Software Engineering Research (LASER). She is a Fellow of the ACM and IEEE, and a board member of the Computing Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W). She is a former vice chair of the Computing Research Association (CRA), co-chair of CRA-W, IEEE Publication Board member, associate editor of ACM TOPLAS and IEEE TSE, member of the CCR NSF advisory board, ACM SIGSOFT secretary/treasurer, vice-chair and chair, IEEE Distinguished Visitor, and ACM National Lecturer. She received the 2011 University of Massachusetts Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity Award, the 2009 College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Outstanding Faculty Service Award, the 2004 University of Colorado, Boulder Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award, the 2002 SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award, a 1993 University Faculty Fellowship, and the 1991 University of Massachusetts Distinguished Faculty Chancellor's Medal. She has written numerous papers, served on many program committees, and was program co-chair of the 14th and general chair of the 25th International Conference on Software Engineering. She has been a Principal Investigator on a number of NSF, DoD, and DARPA projects. Dr. Clarke's research is in the area of software engineering, primarily focusing on finite-state verification of concurrent systems and requirements engineering. Recently she has been investigating applying software engineering technologies to detect errors and vulnerabilities in complex processes in domains such as healthcare, scientific workflow, and digital government. She is also involved in several efforts to increase participation of underrepresented groups in computing research.


Leon J. Osterweil is a professor in the Department of Computer Science, co-director of the Laboratory for Advanced Software Engineering Research (LASER), and founding co-director of the Electronic Enterprise Institute, all at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he also served as Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 2001-02005. Previously he had been a Professor in, and Chair of, Computer Science Departments at both the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. Professor Osterweil was awarded the ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award for Lifetime Excellence in Research in 2003 and the ACM SIGSOFT Most Influential Educator Award in 2010. His ICSE 9 paper was awarded a prize as the Most Influential Paper of ICSE 9, awarded as a 10-year retrospective. Prof. Osterweil is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a member of the editorial boards of IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, Software Process Improvement and Practice, Automated Software Engineering, and the International Journal of Software and Informatics. Prof. Osterweil chaired a National Academy of Sciences committee that studied strategies for improving electronic services provision for the US Social Security Administration, and is currently serving on an NAS committee investigating similar issues for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He has presented keynote talks at a variety of meetings, including ICSE 9 (the Ninth International Conference on Software Engineering) where he introduced the concept of Process Programming. Prof. Osterweil has been the Program Committee Chair for such conferences as the 16th International Conference on Software Engineering, and was the General Chair of the Sixth ACM Sigsoft Conference on the Foundations of Software Engineering, and the 28th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2006). Professor Osterweil’s research focuses on the definition, analysis, and iterative improvement of processes. He led the project to develop the Little-JIL process definition language. His work has been supported by a variety of sources, most principally by numerous grants from both the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. His research career is summarized in the book, The Engineering of Software, published in 2011 by Springer.