Mahsa Tavassoli

Graduate student, Management Sciences

Grand River Hospital has a problem with pumps. Mahsa Tavassoli is trying to help the hospital solve it.

At $5,000 a piece, IV diffusion pumps are too expensive for each ward to have a few sitting in a storeroom. But a floating inventory system has drawbacks, too: when a patient needs a pump, it is sometimes a scramble to find one. Staff try to avoid this by tucking pumps away – a solution that actually makes the problem worse.

Enter Mahsa. As a graduate student in management sciences, she spent four months at Grand River studying the matter. The hospital was considering fitting each pump with a radio-frequency ID tag, which would track its location – and indeed, Mahsa’s work suggests that RFID tags could cut the number of pumps needed by a quarter and search times by half.

But Mahsa isn’t sure the tags are the right answer. They won’t be cheap, and they won’t show whether a pump sitting by a bedside is in use, or in storage. Perhaps, she says, a low-tech system where the pumps are stored centrally and “rented” by the hour would prevent them being hoarded.

Mahsa is one of several management sciences students helping Grand River Hospital manage its technology – sometimes by recommending hospital staff use less of it.