Design and Delivery of Healthcare Systems

Available April 2021

2 credit hours

The healthcare sector accounted for nearly 18% of U.S. GDP in 2019—higher than in other developed countries. Yet quality of care often lags behind despite the large expenditures. Moreover, studies suggest that over a quarter of the spending may be unnecessary.1 There is great opportunity for healthcare organizations to improve efficiency, quality and timeliness of delivery of healthcare.

Operations management can be defined as the design, operation and improvement of the systems that create and deliver the firm’s primary products and services. The operations function of a firm focuses on adding value through the transformation process of converting inputs to outputs. In particular, we will apply principles and tools of operations management to explore improvement opportunities in the design, delivery and management of the healthcare value chain. We will be examining the healthcare operation from the perspective of operations metrics such as cost, quality, time (access) and variety/customization. The main pursuit in the course will be to shine light on specific operations concepts and principles that can result in effective design and management of the healthcare delivery system. The course will also explore the role of various stakeholders involved in delivery of care, such as hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and government.

The first half of the course will focus on the factory that provides healthcare service: hospitals. Many of the well-known principles of production, such as process analysis and lean production, will be applied to the healthcare setting. The second half of the course will focus on the non-hospital portion of the healthcare value chain, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, pharmacies, healthcare R&D and healthcare IT.

The intended audience of the course is students who are interested in exploring opportunities in the healthcare sector, directly working for one of the stakeholders above. However, students who are interested in consulting, venture capital, private equity and investment banking should also find the course useful given the size and growth in the sector. No prior exposure to the medical or health sector is necessary.

The course prepares students for several career paths, including consulting, operations management, technology management (e.g., IT, pharmaceutical, medical devices, regulatory agencies) and healthcare administration (e.g., hospitals and clinics, insurance). In addition, students seeking domain-level exposure to the healthcare sector and insights into the inner workings of the various stakeholders in the industry will find the course helpful.

1 “How the U.S. Can Reduce Waste in Health Care Spending by $1 Trillion” Harvard Business Review. October 13, 2015. (https://hbr.org/2015/10/how-the-u-s-can-reduce-waste-in-health-care-spending-by-1-trillion) Return to footnote reference