WashU Engineering offers new master's of health care operational excellence

The Master of Health Care Operational Excellence will equip leaders in health care and health-care management to improve the quality and efficiency of the U.S. health-care system using engineering systems processes. The degree, which will launch in Fall 2017, is designed for health-care management and staff both within hospitals and clinics, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, imaging professionals, and in environmental services and facilities, and food service and nutrition, as well as operations managers and process improvement engineers. In addition, engineers and managers with experience in performance improvement in other professions outside of health care will benefit from learning the systems, tools and change management that are unique to the health-care environment.

Ultimately, graduates of the program would design systems that would improve patient experience and satisfaction, reduce costs of providing quality health care and save lives, said Aaron Bobick, dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science and the James M. McKelvey Professor.

"Accompanying the ever-expanding capabilities of medicine has been an immense increase in the complexity of health-care delivery in the United States," said Aaron F. Bobick, dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science and the James M. McKelvey Professor. "Health care is one of the leading industries in the St. Louis area, and there is a high demand for professionals who can make the health-care system both more effective and more efficient. This program takes advantage of the School of Engineering & Applied Science's expertise in engineering-based systems analysis and modeling to prepare these professionals to continue St. Louis' place as a national health-care leader."

Ed Borbely, associate dean and executive director of professional education in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, said the program applies the systems and tools that have been refined in other sectors, such as air transportation and manufacturing, to health care. 

The 30-hour program will teach students to apply analysis and improvement methods from industrial engineering and engineering management to their own operations in health-care.

"Implementing performance-improvement methods could reduce medical errors and ensure smooth processes from food service to filling prescriptions to operating room preparation to clinic visits," said Lisa Olenski, program director and executive director of transformation support for BJC HealthCare's Center for Clinical Excellence.

For more information or to apply, visit opex.wustl.edu.