MIE 1616: Research Topics in Healthcare Engineering - University of Toronto - Michael Carter - (Mechanical and Industrial Engineering - MIE)

By Michael Carter

University of Toronto

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The purpose of this course (MIE 1616) is to provide an overview of current OR research in healthcare and to develop the insight required in order to do relevant and significant research in this field. The course attempts to provide an overview to some of the major research topics in the field, but the course also provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate "critical analysis" of the literature.

Graduate students in this class should have an introductory level background in the necessary tools of OR such as mathematical programming, stochastic processes, queueing theory, statistical modelling, decision analysis and dynamic programming. Students must have sufficient knowledge to be able to read and understand the various papers. The majority of the papers involve applications of OR to healthcare problems.

Course Description:

This is a seminar-based course in which we will review a variety of papers in the field of healthcare OR. We will survey and evaluate several papers within topic areas and try to identify areas for potential future research. Some papers will be distinctly OR, while others will come from researchers in the field of healthcare policy and healthcare economics. One thing that you will notice as we go through the literature is that the area of healthcare engineering is interdisciplinary in nature, and encourages solutions that are derived from various areas of expertise. This interdisciplinary approach is also encouraged through the many funding bodies that currently support healthcare engineering research in North America. The Canadian Institute of Health Research, CIHR, (http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca) funds the majority of healthcare research in Canada. It is composed of 14 virtual 'institutes' that represent all facets of health research. The Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, IHSPR, is most related to the type of collaborative research discussed above. It supports innovative research, capacity-building and knowledge translation in order to improve health care service delivery. In 2001 and 2004, IHSPR was involved with national consultations on health services priorities entitled "Listening for Direction". The result of these consultations was a set of priorities for Canadian researchers in the area of health care policy and management. Of course, not all of the topics are relevant to Healthcare Engineering, but many of the readings and articles discussed in this class will align with the most recent set of priorities:

Research Themes

Workforce planning, training, and regulation
•Value of inter-professional team care in different settings
•Forecasting models
•Scopes of practice and health professional regulation
•Relationship between extent/nature of training and health outcomes

Management of the healthcare workplace
•How changing demographics are leading to changing expectations in the workplace
•Factors generating organizational commitment and productivity by healthcare professionals
•Identification of leaders in healthcare

Timely access to quality care for all
•Waiting time management for specialized and diagnostic services
•Timely access to primary and community care
•Improving access for rural and remote communities and for minority and vulnerable groups

Managing for quality and safety
•Improving quality, uptake of clinical best practices
•Improving patient safety, adverse event reduction systems

Understanding and responding to public expectations
•Impact of market-driven influences
•Interpersonal, attitudinal, cognitive, and risk-perception influences
•Role of the media in influencing public attitudes and public expectations of health services.
•Effectiveness of alternative approaches to public engagement

Sustainable funding and ethical resource allocation
•Ethical framework for resource allocation
•Models for institution-level resource allocation
•Evidence on system efficiencies and resource redeployment
•Effects and effectiveness of public-private partnerships

Governance and accountability
•Selection, role, and use of individual performance indicators
•Current organizational frameworks for using performance indicators
•The link between population-based funding and accountability
•Implications of foreign experiences of public-private partnerships for Canada
•Intelligence from regionalization experiences

Managing and adapting to change
•Models and mechanisms of knowledge translation
•Intra-organizational management structures

Linking care across place, time, and settings
•Improving chronic disease management
•Caregiver support and informal and voluntary care
•Technology and chronic disease management

Linking public health to health service
•Surge capacity: How to organize health services to cope with emergencies?
•Relationship between specific disease prevention or health promotion products/services on need for traditional healthcare services
•Public health threats & the need for healthcare/public health professionals


Viviane Moreira

University of Toronto