Healthcare systems have distinct characteristics because of high clinical, flow and professional variability. Students will learn how healthcare systems cope with these kinds of variability.

The performance of healthcare systems can be measured by different aspects: patient centeredness, patient safety, effectiveness, efficiency, timeliness, equity. Approaches, methods and techniques to improve performance on these aspects will be discussed in this course. The focus is on secondary care, in particular the phase of diagnostics tests and the perioperative process within hospitals.

So far, research on healthcare operations has been dominated mainly by unit (departmental) approaches. This course will provide an overview of these approaches on a strategic, tactical and operational level. A few approaches (e.g. appointment scheduling; sharing resources; quality improvement) will be discussed in-depth. Moreover, we will explore how chain and network approaches may help in delivering integrated care.

In the lectures research on healthcare operations from scientific journals will be discussed. Topics of the lectures are: complexity and sources of variability; performance indicators for quality improvement and patient safety; process integration in acute care; integration of planning and control in elective care; capacity planning and the role of shared resources; lean and quantitative tools. In the tutorials students elaborate on two real-life problems, one on analysing and designing clinical pathways and one on logistics decision making.

Learning outcomes

Students are able to: (1) give an overview of the sources and impact of variability in healthcare processes and systems; (2) describe the role of quality management and logistics management in the planning, control and improvement of healthcare processes; (3) design intramural and transmural processes, care pathways or delivery systems in order to meet or exceed the specified quality of care; (4) relate departmental approaches to performance in the value chain; (5) apply (mainly quantitative) methods and techniques of quality management and logistics management in healthcare processes; and (6) elaborate on complex, ambiguous problematic situations (containing both hard and soft elements) by using a variety of well-known methods.

Number of credit hours per week 4
Course eligibility Optional
Presence of students On-campus