Plenary by Vedat Verter :: Thursday, July 8th

Vedat Verter joined Broad College of Business as the John McConnell Endowed Chair of Business Administration in July 2019. He also serves as Chairperson of the Supply Chain Management Department. He brings 24 years of experience at Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, where he was a James McGill Professor since 2013. Professor Verter specializes on the application of operations research for tackling challenges in the public sector. His areas of research are service chain design, hazardous materials logistics, sustainable operations and healthcare operations management. His work in these four areas culminated into eighty research articles in refereed journals and twenty book chapter. Professor Verter's research is well recognized through invited presentations around the globe. He is deeply invested in training scholars of the future, having supervised 15 Ph.D. students and 25 post-doctoral fellows to date. More details here.

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Challenges of Delivering Healthcare in Rural Areas

Rural populations have relatively more elderly, higher unemployment rates and more poverty than urban areas. Furthermore, rural residents are known to pay less attention to a healthy lifestyle i.e., they exercise less, lack nutritional diets and smoke more. Perhaps, these explain why patients in such areas are more likely to be in poor health and have relatively more chronic diseases. Despite their greater need for healthcare services, the rural populations receive much less than their share of healthcare resources. In the United States, for example, one quarter of residents live in rural areas, but only one eighth of physicians work there.

In this plenary, I would like to highlight this relatively less studied domain as a potential avenue for contributions by operational researchers. I will discuss two examples to pint out the differentiating characteristics of delivering healthcare in rural areas. The first focuses on the multiple roles specialists in rural hospitals need to assume. This requires specialists to make choices between attending the patients in their emergency department and those in the inpatient wards. I will provide a comparative analysis of the different practices in two rural hospitals. The second example involves the design of a network of dialysis centers in Atlantic Canada. The rather long travel distances that are endured by the dialysis patients constitute the primary challenge for delivering care in this context.