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Health Services Research, Policy & Administration MS

 

Application deadline extended to June 15

The Master of Science in Health Services Research, Policy & Administration (MS-HSRPA) program focuses on the research and analytic methods underlying evidence-based decision making. Students gain knowledge and skills in managing health-related data, such as electronic medical records, surveys, and health care claims.
The MS includes two tracks:

  • Plan A: Outcomes Research, a two-year program that focuses on developing the skills necessary for participating in research environments
  • Plan B: Health Intelligence & Analytics, a one-year program (available online and in-person) that provides you the skills and knowledge to analyze and answer health services related questions from practitioners and researchers

This track trains students how to conduct studies that examine the effects of health care treatments and the organization on patients and societal outcomes. health outcomes researchers collect and analyze data to determine what works best for whom under what conditions. The outcomes research concentration is an excellent program for providers, such as physicians, who are seeking to conduct and publish research level studies examining health care treatments and interventions. It is a two-year program that requires 49-52 credits.

HSRP&A-OR differs from the MS-HSRP&A Health Intelligence and Analytics (HIA). HSRP&A-OR focuses on developing the skills necessary for participating in research environments; HSRP&A-HIA focuses on application of skills and knowledge in practice environments.

  • Plan A: Background & Objectives
    Outcomes research includes at least three areas:

    • Primary data collection (specifically planned prospective studies, both randomized trials and observational studies)
    • Analysis of extant clinical data
    • Analysis of administrative data

    Through coursework, graduates will be able to:

    • Describe the steps involved in designing an outcomes research study
    • Carry out each step in writing a fundable proposal
    • Distinguish the basic designs used in outcomes research
    • Discuss the strengths and limitations of each design
    • Assess the quality of the research design in a given study
    • Describe the issues around using secondary data
    • Conduct a publishable systematic review of the research on a relevant topic
    • Distinguish between a systematic review and an advocacy review
    • Discuss the elements of quality of care and their interrelationships

    The faculty who teach outcomes research have a great deal of experience conducting outcomes research and are national and international leaders in outcomes research. Robert Kane has co-authored a definitive text on this topic and is a national leader in reviewing clinical evidence. Beth Virnig conducts studies using administrative data to examine outcomes in cancer and other areas. Virnig and Marshall McBean are key outcomes research faculty members leading ResDAC, a project that teaches researches how to use Medicare and Medicaid data for research.

  • Curriculum Plan A

    The culminating event is writing a research proposal and conducting an outcomes study.
    Plan A curriculum (49-52 credits)

    • Biostatistics I (PubH 6450, 4 credits)
    • Biostatistics II (PubH 6451, 4 credits)
    • Epidemiologic Methods I (PubH 6341, 3 credits)
    • Epidemiologic Methods II (PubH 6342, 3 credits)
    • Epidemiologic Methods III (PubH 6343, 4 credits)
    • Ethics in Public Health: Research and Policy (PubH 6742, 1 credit)
    • Understanding Health Care Quality (PubH 6863, 2 credits)
    • Conducting Health Outcomes Research (PubH 6864, 3 credits)
    • Measurement of Health-Related Social Factors (PubH 8813, 3 credits)
    • Research Studies in Health Care (PubH 8810, 3 credits)
    • Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Health Care (PubH 6862, 3 credits)
    • The Health Care System and Public Health (PubH 6724, 3 credits) (optional per advisor recommendation)
    • Thesis/Research Project (PubH 8777, 10 credits)
    • Electives (6 credits)

    Master’s Project
    MS students in the Plan A complete a formal thesis. The formatting requirements for the thesis are prescribed by the Graduate School. The student works closely with the project advisor to determine the topic and research methodology. Both the Plan A and Plan B require a final oral defense.

  • Plan B: Health Intelligence & Analytics Track Background & Objectives
    This track prepares you to work closely with clinicians, executives and policymakers to translate data into organizational intelligence and evidence that can be used to improve organizational performance and patient outcomes. In contrast to Plan A, Plan B focuses on helping clinicians, managers and policymakers frame and answer questions that require rapid response using readily available health care data. The track entails a 34-credit program that can be completed in-person or online in one year. There is strong and growing demand for graduates of the HIA program.

    Strong candidates for the program will have strength in comprehension and writing, demonstrated through coursework and GRE verbal and writing scores; a solid undergraduate or postgraduate academic record; strength in mathematics and/or statistics, demonstrated through course work or quantitative GRE scores; interest in improving health care systems and outcomes, and interest in working with clinicians, executives, and policymakers to translate data to evidence

    Plan B Objectives

    The HIA graduate will be expert enough in health information and analytic skills to be able use health data effectively and will have the people skills and understanding of clinical, business, and policy issues to help their clients obtain the information and evidence required for improving health care.

    Core Competencies
    The core competencies for graduates are based in liaison role in working with clinicians, executives, and policymakers to develop evidence from data, including competency in health intelligence and analysis and competence in working with clients. Selection will focus on students whose background prepares them to be successful in this intensive program and to:

    • Implement statistical models that meet the client’s needs
    • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the statistical analyses
    • Know the strengths and weaknesses of different types of health data, such as medical records and surveys
    • Understand the relationship of data quality to information use
    • Manage and integrate data from multiple sources using relational data management and structured query language (SQL)
    • Assess data quality and reliability
    • Implement core issues related to using health data, such as quality measurement, resource measurement, risk adjustment, severity adjustment, attribution, and grouping.
    • Manage projects

    MS HSRPA Plan B

  • Plan B: Curriculum

    The HIA curriculum consists of 27 core credits (including 2 thesis credits  for the Plan B Project) and a 7-8 credits in a specialization area. Students can also propose their own specialization area for review and approval by the program faculty.

    The program is a fast-paced and designed to be finished in one year, starting with matriculation in fall and ending in the following summer. The program builds your skills in a cumulative manner. In order to complete the program in one year, the faculty does not recommend full-time employment during the course of study. A part-time option is available.

    Core Curriculum (27 credits)

    • Epidemiology I (PubH 6341, 3 credits)
    • Biostatistics I (PubH 6450, 4 credits)
    • Biostatistics II (PubH 6451, 4 credits)
    • Principles of Public Health Research (PubH 6806, 2 credits)
    • Managing Electronic Health Information (PubH 6802, 3 credits
    • Health and Health Systems (PubH 6556, 3 credits) OR
    • The Health Care System and Public Health (PubH 6724, 3 credits)
    • Project Management (PubH 6800, 2 credits)
    • Professional Practice in HIA (PubH 6800, 1 credit)
    • Applied Projects in HIA (PubH 6800, 2 credits)
    • Ethics in Public Health: Research and Policy (PubH 6742, 1 credit)
    • Plan B Project (PubH 7894, 2 credits)

    Specialization Areas 7-8 credits (choose one)

    Cost Effectiveness

    • Economics of the Health Care System (PubH 6832, 3 credits).
    • Decision Analysis for Health Care (PubH 6717, 2 credits)
    • Cost Effectiveness Analysis (PubH 6862, 3 credits) or
    • Advanced Methods in Health Decision Sciences (PubH 6809, 3 credits)
    • Topics in Health Economics (PubH 6555, 2 credits)

    Health Care Quality Improvement/Operations Research

    • Operations Research and Quality in Healthcare (PubH 6560, 2 credits)
    • Quantitative Methods Applied to Problems in Health Care (PubH 6561, 2 credits)
    • Continuous Quality Improvement: Methods and Techniques (PubH 6765, 3 credits

    Research Methods

    • Operations Research and Quality in Healthcare (PubH 6560, 2 credits)
    • Using Demographic Data for Policy Analysis, (PubH 6845, 3 credits)
    • Program Evaluation in Health and Mental Health Settings, PubH 6852, 3 credits)

    Health Economics

    • Economics of the Health Care System (PubH 6832, 3 credits) OR
    • Topics in Health Economics  (PubH 6555, 2 credits
    • Cost Effectiveness Analysis (PubH 6862, 3 credits)
    • Public Health Economics for Decision Makers (PubH 6780, 2 credits)

    Health Services Research and Evaluation

    • Understanding Health Care Quality (PubH 6862, 3 credits)
    • Conducting a Systematic Literature Review (PubH 6803, 3 credits)
    • Survey Research Methods (PubH 6810, 3 credits)
    • Using Demographic Data for Policy Analysis (PubH 6845, 3 credits)
    • Program Evaluation in Health and Mental Health Settings (PubH 6852, 3 credits)

    Student Proposed Area (7 credits)

    • Students can develop and propose their own specialization area to program faculty for approval.

    Master’s Project
    Students in the Plan B complete a Plan B project. The project is less formal in terms of formatting requirements, but must represent a minimum of 120 hours of work. The student works closely with the project advisor to determine the topic and research methodology. Both the Plan A and Plan B require a final oral defense.

  • Career Outlook
    Rather than being a purely technical back-office job, careers in the Health Intelligence field involve extensive interaction with users to help them frame their questions so that they take advantage of what can be learned from the data their organization has available.

    The program prepares you to work closely with clinicians, executives and policymakers to translate data into organizational intelligence and evidence that can be used to improve organizational performance and patient outcomes. In contrast to Plan A, Plan B focuses on helping clinicians, managers and policymakers frame and answer questions that require rapid response using readily available health care data.

    Our graduates are much sought analysts who contribute to research and practice improvement teams, playing critical supporting roles in the health services research enterprise. Graduates hold positions at UnitedHealth Group, LifeScience Alley, Medica, and numerous government agencies.

    Graduates will:

    • Translate data from multiple sources, such as medical records, surveys, and health insurance claims, to improve health system performance
    • Assist clinicians by providing tools to measure patient outcomes that alert providers to patient needs
    • Assist health systems and health policymakers by analyzing clinical quality and resource use and be evaluating health system programs designed to improve care
    • Assist employers by using health care data to develop evidence that can guide health and wellness programs for employees
    • Possess the technical skills necessary to translate data to information
    • Possess the people skills and business intelligence necessary to help their understand how they can use data effectively to answer their questions

    If you want to learn more about health services research, see the self-study course: Introduction to Health Services Research

Admission Preferences & Prerequisites
Admission requires a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. Admissions committees in each major review applicants according to their personal statements, background and experience, record of academic achievement, demonstrated academic potential, letters of recommendation, compatibility of interests with program faculty, and other factors.
Test scores and GPAs provide competitive points of reference for admission, but are not alone decisive in the admissions review.
Preferred Performance Levels

  • A cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.00
  • A GRE score of 300 combined verbal and quantitative, and 3.5 analytic writing assessment
  • TOEFL scores of 600 on the paper test or 250 on the computer-based test or 100 on the internet-based (iBT) test for applicants whose native language is not English

Strong quantitative skills are essential; a health services background is helpful, but not required. Some college level math is required. Statistics and economics coursework is recommended.
Application Deadlines for Fall Admission

  • Priority: Preceding Dec. 1
  • Final: April 15

Admission Decisions
Complete applications are reviewed beginning in mid-January by an admissions committee. Applicants are notified in writing by mail of the admissions decision.

Scholarships
The School of Public Health has numerous scholarships for new students. All admitted students with a complete application by Dec. 1 will automatically be considered for internal scholarships.
Graduate Assistantships
A graduate assistantship is an on-campus, part-time job that includes attractive benefits. Assistantships are very competitive to obtain as the demand out numbers the available positions.
Benefits
Graduate assistants receive both wages and a tuition subsidy based on the number of hours worked per week and their rate of tuition. Non-Minnesota residents also receive a waiver that covers the non-resident portion of tuition.

  • Health insurance coverage of at least 50 percent
  • Invaluable working experience and opportunity to work closely with faculty

The Division of HPM has some Research Assistant positions available and a few Teaching Assistant positions. Students may also look for graduate assistantship jobs outside of the department through the University’s Office of Human Resources Graduate Assistant Employment page.
Student Loans
Students may be eligible to apply for federal student loans. Learn more about University financial aid

The following information focuses primarily on the Plan B track.

Organizations are being flooded with data and are seeking to translate it into organizational intelligence that can help improve performance (see The Age of Big Data by Steve Lohr, NY Times). Health care organizations use information to help clinicians improve care by providing tools to measure patient outcomes and alert providers to patient needs. Employers are using information to improve health and wellness programs for their employees.
Translating huge amounts of raw data into organizational intelligence requires analysts who are skilled in analyzing data to address organizational questions such as what works for whom when where and why? This career opportunity is a growing area and it will be difficult to outsource because it requires being a liaison between users and informatics – helping users frame and answer their questions using their organization’s data.
The MS in HSRP&A trains you to create organizational intelligence by applying analytic skills to large data sets to help users, clinicians and executives, answer their questions. Rather than being a purely technical back-office job, careers in this field involve extensive interaction with users to help them frame their questions so that they take advantage of what can be learned from the data their organization has available.
The program will provide you analytical skills that can be applied in numerous settings — program evaluation, systems and industrial engineering, analytic health care management, health policy analysis, and more. And the program works with local employers to develop internships that provide second-year students with a stipend, and the opportunity to develop your skills in real-world settings.
Our graduates are much sought analysts who contribute to research and practice improvement teams, playing critical supporting roles in the health services research enterprise. Graduates hold positions at UnitedHealth Group, LifeScience Alley, Medica, and numerous government agencies.
Graduates will:

  • Translate data from multiple sources, such as medical records, surveys, and health insurance claims, to improve health system performance
  • Assist clinicians by providing tools to measure patient outcomes that alert providers to patient needs
  • Assist health systems and health policymakers by analyzing clinical quality and resource use and be evaluating health system programs designed to improve care
  • Assist employers by using health care data to develop evidence that can guide health and wellness programs for employees
  • Possess the technical skills necessary to translate data to information
  • Possess the people skills and business intelligence necessary to help their understand how they can use data effectively to answer their questions

If you want to learn more about health services research, see the self-study course: Introduction to Health Services Research

See program career spotlights

Contact Info

Major Coordinator
Maureen Andrew
612-624-9432
andre031@umn.edu
HSRP&A MS Program Director
Douglas Wholey, Ph.D, Professor
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