5 Questions with William “Bill” Burton

Hometown: Baldwinsville, NY
Graduating Class: 1983 BSIE, 1988 MSIE
Career Overview: William “Bill” Burton joined Duke University Hospital in 1993, where he developed the Performance Services Office. This office consists of over 100 engineers, analysts and nurses dedicated to improving organizational performance throughout the entire Duke system. Before joining Duke, he worked with Premier as a management consultant supporting hospitals in North and South Carolina. Burton is a certified six sigma black belt. From 2015 through 2018, he was a member of the Baldrige Board of Examiners. In 2013, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from ISE Department at NC State.

  1. What is the single most important experience or understanding you gained in the ISE department? I gained the ability to solve problems by leveraging the set of ISE tools.
  2. What is the most pressing issue facing human society that engineers should be working harder to solve? Healthcare. Healthcare issues are multi-faceted. They include population health, health disparities, cost, access and not to forget the current COVID-19 situation. I have seen how engineers can help our clinical teams improve performance through analytics, process improvements and project management. Engineers can have a significant impact on addressing our national and local healthcare challenges.
  3. What would you like to accomplish in your career? What are you most proud of so far? I am most proud of developing a team that has contributed to the success of one of the leading academic medical centers. We have made contributions across all dimensions of performance, including quality, safety, patient experience, workforce and financial.  Also, I am proud of the opportunities offered through the Performance Services Office to so many engineers over the years, providing an environment where they can grow and achieve their personal and professional goals.
  4. Are there regular industry events you attend / ways you stay connected? The one industry event I try to attend is the Vizient Annual Quality Conference.  It is an opportunity for academic medical centers to come together, share best practices and learn from each other.  It helps us stay current with industry trends and provides the spark to challenge our current thinking and be a better office.  I need to stay connected to current industry trends and best practices to promote a culture of performance improvement both personally and for Duke.
  5. What advice do you have for current ISE students? Find your passion. There are so many different paths an ISE can take, and for long term success and satisfaction, you must find the one that will be both challenging and fulfilling. This choice will require you to gain exposure and experience in various industries and ISE-based roles to find the right match.