Lesley Meng is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Operations Management track. Lesley’s research utilizes novel large-scale datasets to investigate the (often hidden) impact of management decisions at the organization level on healthcare worker behavior, and subsequently, the effectiveness and efficiency of patient care. More generally, Lesley’s research is in the area of empirical healthcare operations management, which combines her past education in medical science and public health with her doctoral training in operations management, econometrics, and causal inference.
Lesley holds an Honors Specialization in Medical Science from the University of Western Ontario, an Honors in Business Administration degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business, and a Masters of Public Health in Health Policy and Management from Columbia University.
Prior to joining Wharton, Lesley worked as a Research Associate at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Technology Assessment. During her time at Columbia, she worked as a Project Analyst at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and as a Research Assistant at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Abstract: We study the impact of service facility layout on how service workers organize their tasks. We focus on the hospital emergency department (ED) as a service setting where nurses (servers) have discretion over how they interact with their patients (customers) in a facility that introduces significant heterogeneity in necessary walking distance. We utilize a unique dataset consisting of infrared nurse location tracking data, patient EMR data, bedside call data, and the architectural floor plan, to show that nurses reduce their total walking distance by decreasing the frequency of visits to patient rooms far away. We show that this behavior is consistent with batching their tasks rather than a reduction of tasks. While this behavior reduces necessary nurse walking, it comes at the expense of poorer care quality. We find that patients in rooms farthest away press the nurse call button more frequently, an action that is linked with poor patient satisfaction. These findings show that even in services, facility layout can lead to servers with discretion over task timing using that discretion in ways that help the server but that lead to reduced customer quality.