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Mastering Online Healthcare Systems Engineering

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The healthcare industry is evolving rapidly, not just across the nation but also across the world. As new technology becomes available, the ability to treat patients efficiently and effectively without losing quality or care has become a priority. How a facility is run and organized contributes to the success of the changes we are seeing. For this reason, healthcare organizations need systems engineering experts to improve healthcare settings and ensure they are created, maintained and continuously advanced. Recognizing this need, UCF Online offers a fully online master’s and certificate in healthcare systems sciences. Through this program students are prepared to design the future of patient healthcare.

What is systems engineering?

Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary approach in which you can analyze, manage or measure complex systems in an effort to improve them. The improvement could be done in the form of efficiency, productivity, quality, safety and many other factors. Systems engineering processes typically include several sequential steps starting with the investigation of a problem and ending with the solution evaluation. Much of systems engineering has to do with the aerospace, defense, and manufacturing industries. However, when applying systems engineering to healthcare, a newer direction of skills is being utilized.

Where does health systems sciences come into place?

In 2014, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report on Better Health Care and Lower Costs: Accelerating Improvement Through Systems Engineering.

The report encouraged systems engineering be developed at all levels not only to improve the efficiency of care delivery, but also improve its quality. This is the core of this program: discovering how we help healthcare organizations spearhead systemic change for efficient patient care, specifically, by introducing systems engineering principles into the operations of these healthcare organizations.

Who is this program geared toward?

The online master’s in healthcare systems engineering is open to professionals with backgrounds in both the healthcare field and the engineering field that are interested in specializing in health systems sciences.

Richard Biehl, one of our expert faculty members, has worked in healthcare for the past 15 years after about 30 years working in industrial engineering.

“I made that transition, as many of you are considering doing, moving from an industrial setting with industrial engineering over into the healthcare sector,” Biehl says. “That’s an awkward or difficult transition to make if you’re not really familiar with healthcare. Likewise, some of you may be working in healthcare today.” You may be clinicians in a clinical practice wanting to move into the process arena, process improvement arena, and you might be wondering what it will be like to work in more of an engineering setting and a planning setting.

“Almost everyone that comes into our program has experiences and knowledge and job experiences that are useful to the program. Very few people coming into the program have the entire breadth of both engineering and clinical practice in healthcare as they come in.” In addition, a student’s first year of courses is designed to be truly fundamental and bring everyone up to the same stage and get everyone ready to move forward.

When identifying the ideal student, program director Vernet Lasrado identified three types:

  • Students coming from the healthcare background – doctors, nurses and any other professionals of healthcare;
  • Students from an industrial or other engineering background, who are prepared to learn the healthcare side of the industry;
  • Students with backgrounds in information technology, which is a big part of revolutionizing healthcare.

What courses can I expect?

The first class in the curriculum is Issues and Trends in Health Professions. This course makes sure everyone in the program is aware of the issues in the health professions and healthcare sector. The second course, Systems Architecture, addresses what it means to be an engineer, what it means to talk about systems, and how to apply systems thinking and systems engineering to the healthcare profession. From there, students take courses such as Engineering Economics, Risk Assessment and Management, Management Information Systems, Discrete Simulation, Basic Statistics, Industrial Engineering Analytics in Healthcare, Quality Management and a Project Engineering capstone course. Every class is taught by faculty that have been certified to teach online and, if the faculty are developing the classes, they’ve been certified at to develop classes for online education using the best practices.

How long is an online healthcare systems engineering master’s program?

Through UCF Online, you can complete your graduate degree in two years. What’s great about this program is it’s fully online. For those working or have other responsibilities in life, you do not have to take a break from that. The curriculum is tailor-made for working professionals. We realize that having multiple courses, multiple projects, multiple responsibilities at the same time can be daunting, so we have a unique class structure in our program in which you take only one class at a time and you take each class in seven weeks.

You take 10 classes for 30 credit hours. This applies basically to your systems engineering principle. The degree you receive will be a Master’s of Science in the healthcare systems engineering track from the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

How do I get started?

We have two semesters in which students can apply: fall and spring. In addition to the university’s general requirements, applicants must provide:

  1. One official transcript in a sealed envelope
  2. Resume or curriculum vita
  3. Goal statement
  4. Two letters of recommendation
  5. For international students: course-by-course credential evaluation with GPA calculation for students who have attended a college or university outside the United States

Healthcare organizations need experts with knowledge and experience in both systems, healthcare administration and information technology to improve patient care as a whole. To learn more about the programs and get connected with an enrollment coach who can get you started on your journey, visit