Engineering in Innovation Excellence: Part 2

By Chiara Marcello

In collaboration with the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto, Humber River Health (Humber) has welcomed five groups of student engineers to work with the Hospital for the 2023/24 school year.

Through the support of the Innovation Excellence team, the students participated in Capstone Projects that aimed to assist various departments throughout Humber to conduct process engineering and redesign work. Participating departments at Humber this year included Pharmacy, Logistics and Procurement, Technical and Support Services, Maternal and Child, and Emergency. Details about each Capstone Project are included below.

Medication Reconciliation (MedRec) within the Pharmacy Department: This project aims to discern strategies for bolstering completion rates of MedRec—a multifaceted process engaging numerous healthcare team members—across inpatient units, with the overarching goal of mitigating medication discrepancies.

Logistics Process Enhancement in the Logistics and Procurement Department: This project aims to identify opportunities for improvement in processes related to the Logistics Department at Humber. These areas of focus included optimizing the item stock-up procedures in supply rooms, refining the system for monitoring expiration dates of medical devices, and streamlining the receiving process.

Help Desk Bot in the Technical and Support Services Department: This endeavor delves into possibilities for integrating generative AI (artificial intelligence) to alleviate workload strains and elevate customer satisfaction levels. Among the avenues explored is the implementation of a chatbot designed to assist the IT helpdesk in managing workload demands and empowering customers to resolve basic issues promptly as needed.

Help Desk Bot Student Group

Lactation Program Redesign in the Maternal and Child Department: This project aims to redesign the existing Lactation program and develop a Lactation Model of Care that optimizes the use of our current Lactation Consultant resources. The project’s goal is to enhance the breastfeeding rate and increase access to our lactation services with well-defined inpatient and outpatient Lactation Service Streams.

Lactation Program Redesign Student Group

ED Redesign in the Emergency Department (ED): The objective of this initiative is to enhance patient flow efficiency within the ambulatory zones of the ED, with a primary focus on reducing patient wait times for their initial encounter with a physician. The team has conducted a detailed current state and root cause analysis to identify key opportunities for improvement, and will be a developing a simulation model to support their recommendation.

Students, Jinwen Yang who participated in the Maternal and Child Department’s Lactation Program Redesign, and Vanathi Anpalagan who participated in the Pharmacy Department’s Medication Reconciliation, have shared their experiences working at Humber.

How has your professional and academic experience been at Humber?

Jinwen: Our experience at Humber has enriched our knowledge about the operations of the Maternal and Child Department in hospitals. During our multiple field visits to Humber, we observed how nurses and consultants provide conversational consultations to patients. We also witnessed how they offer hands-on assistance to patients in effectively positioning and properly latching infants during feeding. This includes demonstrating hand expression techniques or using an electric breast pump to stimulate breast milk production in mothers. Furthermore, working with the Humber team has allowed us to develop our skills in communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution. We dedicated ourselves to aligning our approaches with the end goals of Humber’s Maternal and Child Department.

Vanathi: From both my professional and academic experiences at Humber, I have been able to apply knowledge from school while also acquiring invaluable knowledge and working experience. The initial learning curve was quite high, as our team had to learn about the different systems and processes that are currently in place. However, the staff at Humber have been very supportive and responsive, taking time out of their busy days to thoroughly explain and demonstrate certain processes and functions. Their constant support for our team has led to an elevated experience. Throughout the project, my team and I had the opportunity to work with a wide range of staff members and take part in multiple presentations to showcase our team’s work.

What has been most rewarding about the experience?

Jinwen: One rewarding aspect of our experience at Humber has been the exceptional support and guidance provided by the Humber team. Their friendliness, professionalism, and patience were evident throughout our collaboration, as they consistently answered our questions and offered valuable insights. Witnessing their dedication and expertise has been instrumental in shaping our understanding of how to navigate challenges and behave as mature professionals in our careers. This aspect of our experience has left a lasting impression on our professional growth.

Another rewarding aspect of our experience at Humber has been the opportunity to apply our engineering knowledge to address healthcare challenges. This hands-on experience not only deepened our understanding of healthcare systems but also showcased the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in driving innovation and positive change.

Vanathi: As someone who had limited exposure to the healthcare system in the past, this experience was really eye opening and rewarding. Working on a project that not only helps the patients, but also the front-line staff to adjust the processes and reduce their workload pressures, made this project more enriching.


Our collaboration with the University of Toronto, the respective program, and our Innovation Excellence team has been beneficial, educational, and inspirational to the students and many departments at Humber. We look forward to welcoming more students in the years to come as our partnership continues to flourish.