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A team of seven students will work closely with Lehigh Valley Hospital Physicians Group for the next two semesters on a project to improve the experience of patients at their doctor’s office.

The following students are enrolled this spring in Technology Clinic, a hands-on course in which students from different majors join together to solve real-world problems for clients that include businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies: Catriona Mhairi Duncanson, a junior A.B. engineering major from Basking Ridge, N.J.; Michael Avicolli, a junior International Affairs major from New Britain, Conn.; Zachary Bittner, a junior environmental literary analysis major from Washington Crossing, Pa.; Sam Toma, a sophomore economics and business major from Endicott, N.Y.; Stacy Alboher, a sophomore undeclared liberal arts student from Middletown, N.Y.; Kate McGovern, a junior A.B. engineering major from Dunstable, Mass.; and Joseph Hamill, a junior mechanical engineering major from Mahopac, N.Y.

The group is advised by Dan Bauer, professor of anthropology and sociology, and Larry Malinconico, professor of geology. “We want to make the patients’ visits better despite the pressure that comes from HMO’s,” explains Bauer.

Technology Clinic is considering several possible issues, he notes. The group will sift through these and likely focus on one or two during the fall semester.

One involves the question of why patients may feel more anxious or nervous after seeing a physician than following other types of care. A second is development of a GIS database tracking the concentrations of certain diseases in the Lehigh Valley. “Doctors can then choose to practice in those locations, depending upon their specialty,” says Bauer. Another issue involves matching physician style with patient style. According to Bauer, doctors may be “minimizers,” prescribing the least amount of drugs; “maximizers,” giving a high level of treatment; or “optimizers,” fine-tuning treatment more specifically, but requiring more tests, which would probably be discouraged by the current HMO system. A fourth possible area to pursue is finding ways to link the physicians group with the community.

Categorized in: Academic News