Los Angeles,
01:00 AM

Cedars-Sinai Graduate Program Launches Master's Degree in Health Delivery Science to Better Harness, Analyze Health Information

Students Head Back to School, Learning How to Evaluate and Improve the Delivery of Healthcare in the Digital Age

Doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals are heading back to school at Cedars-Sinai, joining the first class of a new, accredited master’s degree program in health delivery science, offering an advanced curriculum focused on measuring and improving the value of healthcare.

The executive-style program emphasizes applied analytical skills, digital health science, healthcare finance and performance improvement strategies, among other subjects, to help prepare healthcare professionals for a changing marketplace that increasingly rewards medical providers for the value of their care rather than the volume of their procedures.

“Almost 18 percent of the gross domestic product goes to healthcare, and there’s a science behind how to use those resources effectively,” said Program Director Brennan Spiegel, MD, who serves as director of Health Services Research at Cedars-Sinai. “It’s about improving quality of care while also reducing cost.”

The new degree is the latest addition to the Cedar-Sinai Graduate Program. Founded in 2007, the program now offers accredited master’s and doctoral degrees in biomedical science and translational medicine and a master’s in magnetic resonance in medicine.

“This new master’s program further advances our graduate training mission to educate the next generation of leaders in the science of health delivery,” said Shlomo Melmed, MD, executive vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the medical faculty at Cedars-Sinai. “We are uniquely poised to provide a rich milieu of creative scholarship addressing the pressing needs of enhancing the quality and value of medical care and improving outcomes for our patients.”

The master’s program focuses on four core areas: data analytics, health informatics, healthcare financing, and performance measurement and improvement. For example, students learn how to use cost-effectiveness software and how to translate data through graphs and other visuals that can inform decisions.

The curriculum also explores the latest advances in digital health, including the use of wearable biosensors, social media analytics, therapeutic virtual reality and smartphone health apps. Many healthcare employees learn these skills on the job but rarely study them systematically.

“I can use this skill set in daily care for my patients and with my internal medicine trainees,” said incoming student Lili Shek, MD, associate program director of the Cedars-Sinai Internal Medicine Residency Training Program. “As practicing physicians, we need to use big data to our advantage and create a measurable plan to improve the patient care process so we can provide safe, efficient and effective care.”

The program, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, includes 15 months of after-hours classroom instruction followed by five months of field work at Cedars-Sinai or other healthcare organizations.

Target students include clinicians and researchers as well as executives and administrators from industries such as healthcare, insurance, pharmaceuticals and biotech. Students complete projects that align with their career goals. They are paired with research or operational teams and present their final projects to members of Cedars-Sinai’s hospital leadership.

“Hospitals and physicians that provide higher-quality care at lower cost are now more likely to win contracts with private insurers and receive higher payments from Medicare,” said Associate Program Director Teryl Nuckols, MD, director of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Cedars-Sinai. “This means healthcare providers must become experts not only in caring for patients but also in redesigning health systems to optimize quality and value. Our new master’s program is specifically designed to meet this need.”

Spiegel developed the curriculum with help from Nuckols and under the supervision of Leon G. Fine, MD, vice dean of Research and Research Graduate Education.

“Few universities offer health delivery science degrees,” Fine said. “The new program at Cedars-Sinai will have the benefit of being taught inside the largest nonprofit academic medical center on the West Coast – a massive laboratory for testing and developing healthcare delivery ideas and systems.”

Visit the master’s in health delivery science website for more information.