IE 444: Healthcare Management Science - Northwestern University - Sanjay Mehrotra (Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences)

By Sanjay Mehrotra

Northwestern University

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The US healthcare industry is in a crisis. Costs are expanding at a rate that is roughly double the rate at which the gross national product is increasing. The US spends more per capita on healthcare than does any other country. At the same time, we rank well below many other western countries on key healthcare metrics including life expectancy and infant mortality. On an international front, many developing countries are plagued by such diseases as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Basic healthcare in many countries is severely lacking.

With the passage of the Healthcare Reform Act Healthcare industry is going through a major change. Industrial Engineering, Systems Engineering and Operations Research techniques (broadly called Management Science here) has the potential to impact the healthcare industry in significant ways. This impact would range from short term local operational improvements within individual physician offices, clinics and hospitals, to the design of improved clinical procedures, and device designs. Epidemiological studies also benefit from the use of operations research techniques as also the analysis of national healthcare policies. The management science techniques are expected to revolutionize healthcare delivery.

The purpose of this course is to provide PhD students with an overview of the many applications of management science in healthcare and to motivate students to contribute to this rapidly growing field of study.

The course will focus on reading and discussing a broad range of literature related to applications of operations research in healthcare. Students are expected to have a background in optimization, statistics and possibly stochastic modeling. Students who have taken IE 450-1 and who are currently registered in (or have taken) IE 460-1 should have adequate preparation for the course. Students who have taken IE 407, or graduate equivalent, should also be adequately prepared for the course. Students who do not meet these criteria should discuss their preparation for the course with the instructor prior to enrolling in the course.


1.Students are expected to read relevant papers prior/after to the class in which they will/are be discussed and to participate actively in the discussions. After each class, students will be asked to hand in a short summary of the papers discussed that day. This summary should be no more than one page.
2.Students will be assigned one or two papers every week. The students will then do two things: (1) write a summary of the paper, and (2) Critique the assigned research paper(s) for its contributions and limitations;
3.Students are required to do a term project that uses management science techniques to analyze some aspect of healthcare. Possible projects include: (1) Project based on a real-world problem identified by the instructor; (1) a detailed literature survey of papers related to one of the course topics, (2) a model designed to improve some aspect of the healthcare delivery system in a hospital or clinic, (3) a discussion and demonstration of operations research applied to a public policy question in healthcare, (4) detailed presentation of a modern methodological technique with applicability in Healthcare. Clearly, these are only example topics!


Topic 1Introduction – The Healthcare Crisis
Understanding the Healthcare System

Topic 2Health Data and Surveys: Principal Component Analysis.
Multi-criteria decision making (Analytic Hierarchy approach, and McRow)

Topic 3Predictive Modeling (Classification using Support Vector Machine and its combination with Time Series Analysis)

Topic 4Treatment Planning (Basic Integer Programming use )
Treatment Delivery (Integer programming and the use of data robust optimization in radiation therapy)

Topic 5Health Operations Management (Staffing and Scheduling) – Achieving Quality of Service

Topic 6Health Operations Management (Emergency Response Logistics)

Topic 7Treatment Policy Decision Making (Markov Modeling)

The course topics will be covered based on reading research papers

Course Evaluation:
Final Project – 50%
Research Paper Critique – 30%
Weekly Assignments – 20%


Viviane Moreira

University of Toronto