Summit event tackles complexity of managing health care

November 20, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Dr. William Rouse spoke to a full house Nov. 18 at the Biobehavioral Health Building for his lecture on “Managing the Complexity of Health Care,” a topic that will affect all students in the coming years.

The event took place as part of the Schreyer Honors College Shaping the Future Summit program, which is focusing on “The Power of Money,” the theme for 2015.

Following the major announcement of the Summit distinguished speaker Magic Johnson on April 1, gears shifted toward health care in a discussion that examined innovation and methods of health care delivery.

“Fifty percent of cost growth in health care is attributable to technological innovation,” he explained.

Despite tremendous strides in technology, many Americans are still unable to benefit because health care is not affordable for them. Rouse broke down several economic models to demonstrate and used case studies to provide more relatable scenarios to the audience.

He also displayed the complexity of health care and how many people are intertwined and affected, describing it as a “network of networks,” from government officials, physicians and patients to academics, nonprofits and businesses.

“It’s (therefore) quite complicated to make a change in the health care system,” Rouse said. “The bottom line is, we have to find a way to more efficiently deliver health care.”

From economics and nursing to engineering, biomedical sciences, and health and human development, students from many different areas of study came out to listen to Rouse speak. The discussion touched on complex adaptive systems, health care delivery, cost control, price policies, the health care enterprise and the effects of the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m a Biobehavioral Health major and I want to go to medical school, but since I don’t have a health policy and administration background, I thought it would be nice to better understand the challenges in health care delivery and implementation of shared models,” said Estella Obi-Tabot, a junior majoring in biobehavioral health.

Rouse currently serves as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the Alexander Crombie Humphreys Chair in Economics of Engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He previously held a position on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Systems Engineering in Health Care Working Group and contributed to the national report that was released to President Obama in May.

Dr. Rouse’s visit was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the College of Engineering, College of Health and Human Development, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Department of Health Policy and Administration, and Engineering Systems Program.

Following the conclusion of the program, copies of Rouse’s book "Understanding and Managing the Complexity of Health Care," which he co-authored with Nicoleta Serban, were available for purchase and signing.

For up-to-date information regarding this year’s Shaping the Future Summit program, visit or email

Last Updated November 21, 2014