CHEPS Pulse: CHEPSter to CHEPSter with Spyros Potiris & Emmett Springer, April 2021

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CHEPSter to CHEPSter
An Interview with CHEPS Alum Spyros Potiris by CHEPS Student Emmett Springer

My name is Emmett, and I am a current Biomedical Engineering undergraduate student and will be starting my master’s degree in Industrial Operations Engineering this fall. I have worked at CHEPS since January 2020. I had the opportunity to speak with Spyros, a CHEPS alum who is currently a Program Manager at the Dana-Farber Institute. I find the work that Spyros does now very interesting and I was excited to learn more about his path to CHEPS and since CHEPS! I want to thank Spyros for taking the time to chat with me and tell me more about his experiences at CHEPS and beyond!

Left: Spyros Potiris, Right: Emmett Springer

Spyros Potiris began working for CHEPS in the fall of 2012 as part of the first cohort of students in the Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety (HEPS) Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE) master’s concentration program. Before coming to CHEPS, Spyros earned a Bachelor’s in Management Science and Technology in his home country of Greece. Inspired by seeing the business his father created, he was interested in learning how to be “more scientific about running a business.” While Spyros’s first degree was in business, he was no stranger to the healthcare industry. His father is a physician and his business focused on helping healthcare facilities around Athens “get up to speed” with EU standards for mental health patients. The business focused on facilitating the creation of smaller, more efficient facilities with more personalized and higher-quality care. Spyros’s involvement in his father’s business while growing up exposed him both to business and to healthcare.

During his undergraduate studies, Spyros learned principles for applying quantitative methods to run businesses in a more efficient manner and at a systemic level, rather than solving individual problems one at a time. He discovered industrial and operations engineering through undergraduate research and decided to pursue an IOE master’s at the U of M after finishing his management degree. The HEPS concentration was new to the IOE program that fall and he loved that he could take coursework and do hands-on work at CHEPS related to healthcare while earning his IOE degree. While at CHEPS, he worked on a project to reduce patient wait times in an outpatient infusion center using stochastic programming and simulation. On this project, Spyros especially enjoyed working with a diverse, multidisciplinary team, with perspectives from engineering and nursing. Spyros said it was also very interesting to learn more about the U.S. healthcare system and compare and contrast it with Greece’s healthcare system.

L to R: Young-Chae Hong, Billy Pozehl, Amy Cohn, and Spyros Potiris at the 2013 INFORMS Annual Conference

After graduating with his IOE HEPS master’s, Spyros went to work for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, applying the strategic data analytics skills and operations principles he learned in his undergrad and graduate education. After a few years working on operational challenges at Dana-Faber, he realized that he needed to take a step back and think about what was happening in the healthcare system on a higher level. He felt that the best way to do this was to gain more experience in public health, and therefore Spyros decided to pursue a Master’s in Public Health at Harvard. He focused specifically on healthcare management, diving into strategy and decision making for healthcare systems. It’s important for health systems to be able to position themselves in markets, deal with regulations, and decide what services to offer in order to best serve patients. These are some of the systems-level decisions that Spyros learned more about in his MPH program, which he felt provided him with a good foundational understanding of how healthcare systems work and how to manage them. Today, Spyros continues to work at the Dana-Faber institute, now as a Program Manager. He utilizes what he’s learned in all of his different experiences (in business, in engineering at CHEPS, and in his MPH program) to be a “data driven leader in healthcare” who can identify and understand what challenges exist in a healthcare organization and apply the technical tools to tackle these challenges.

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