Course Descriptions

The online MS in Health Informatics & Analytics at Tufts School of Medicine is an interdisciplinary program that combines course work in healthcare, IT, information management and data science. Taught by distinguished professors who are experts in their field, courses will prepare you to use emerging technologies, analytical tools, and existing information systems to improve patient outcomes and develop better solutions for health organizations.  

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Required Courses

Introduction to Health Informatics and Analytics (3 credits)

This 14-week course provides an overview of the fields of informatics and analytics in the context of data life cycle and how they emerged over time following the evolution of information technology, and specifically, health information technology (electronic health records, telehealth, and digital health). Commonalities of these two disciplines (terminologies, approaches, standards, domains of use, the roles of users) and their complementary roles in the data/information/knowledge generation process are emphasized. Students will learn how these disciplines are used in healthcare, public health, and research via specific business cases and use cases. The course includes asynchronous lectures and subject matter expert panels, live online class discussions, individual assessments, and group exercises on business case/use case development. 

Health Data Usage (1.5 credits)

This seven-week survey course provides a broad overview of how health data are used today. We discuss the health data ecosystem and technologies, and data in healthcare, clinical research, and public health. Special topics are social determinants of health and environmental data. The asynchronous material is provided by faculty with expertise in these fields. Assessments will be weekly, both individually and in groups, and with a final paper critique group assignment. 

Digital Health (3 credits) 

We all generate data through smartphones, sensors, trackers, and other devices, and our physicians generate data about us. In this course, we look at how medical practitioners, technology professionals, data analysts, and public health professionals use technology and data to bring value to the lives of patients. This course focuses on the variety of technologies available, how they are used, and how they can be used ethically to assist in behavior change, diagnosis, and treatment for individuals and populations. The course provides an overview of digital health through lectures, readings, and expert guest interviews. Students engage with real technologies and examine the experience of using these, and their potential applications, through assignments and class discussion. The course culminates in a group design project, where students create a viable digital solution to a health problem.   

Health Information Systems, Standards, Decision Support (3 credits)

This 14-week course is focused on the use of health information technology (HIT) in healthcare organizations. The course consists of three modules: (1) introduction to health information systems in care delivery settings, including electronic health record systems, financial systems, laboratory information systems, imaging information systems, personal health record, telehealth, mobile health, public health, and population health systems; (2) HIT standards and systems interoperability; and (3) clinical decision support. Using various use case examples, students will learn how informatics and analytics projects enable successful HIT adoption and use by health professionals. The course includes asynchronous lectures and subject matter expert panels, live online class discussions, individual assessments, and a group final assignment on evaluating/critiquing a health informatics and analytics project from the publications in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).

Fundamentals of Privacy and Security in Health IT
(3 credits)

This 14-week elective course is focused on best practices in health information technology (HIT) security and privacy used to safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy of health data, especially personal health information (PHI). As such, students will develop a practical understanding of: (a) laws, regulations, and policies related to information assurance, security, and privacy of data in healthcare systems; (b) Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulation and the legal and other consequences of noncompliance with the HIPAA security rule; (c) security threats and what to do in the event of a breach of HIT systems and the unauthorized disclosure of PHI; and (d) the role of usable security and risk management to protect PHI and other healthcare data.

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Health Informatics Track Required Courses

Informatics Fundamentals (1.5 credits)

In this seven-week course, students will develop an understanding of health informatics, broadly considered. The course learning objectives include gaining a system view of information problems, which include examining broad context organizational issues, roles, business processes, information systems, data, information, knowledge, algorithms, and underlying technologies. It includes lectures, readings, tutorials, “live talks,” quizzes, and a final project. 

Business of Healthcare (3 credits)

The Business of Healthcare is a 14-week elective that will provide students with a foundation for understanding financial and operational management of healthcare organizations. The course will begin with a global overview of how the US healthcare system is financed and show how that translates locally into a healthcare organization’s budget. Students will learn how to properly create and monitor a budget while also learning to benchmark financial as well as nonfinancial performance in the industry. After the financial management foundation is set, the course will then explore general management topics and assist with developing useful skills in human resources management, project management, strategic planning, conflict resolution, and negotiations.

Data Trust—Information Governance in Health (3 credits)

Information governance (IG) is defined as an enterprise-wide framework that defines how information is controlled, accessed, and used, as well as the mechanisms that enforce it. IG framework is a foundation for the data trust within and across organizations. This 14-week elective provides students with an understanding of IG framework in the modern electronic-health data environment; the needs for such a framework; and the process and the implications of putting one into place. Student will learn practical skills in (a) using IG in the creation, management, use, and reuse of electronic information and “legacy” printed information; (b) legal aspects of electronic information in healthcare, including the electronic Legal Health Record; (c) using standards to support IG in e-Health; and (d) methods for instituting IG practices.

Project Management (1.5 credits)

This seven-week course provides students with a foundation in project management. Project management competency is essential in healthcare, where projects are becoming increasingly more complex. The ability to shepherd health informatics and analytics projects through, from making the business case through to capturing lessons learned for continuous improvement, is essential for ensuring projects meet the defined objectives and are completed within the limited time often allocated for completion. Students in this course will learn a variety of best practices, tools, and techniques that will enable them to better manage and oversee health informatics and analytics projects of any complexity and size. Students will develop a comprehensive project management plan to manage projects, creating a variety of project artifacts necessary for overall project management and ultimate success in the project implementation.

Quality and Outcomes (3 credits)

The course reviews the fundamental steps, measures, and data analysis requirements for systems and quality improvement necessary in healthcare. The content will address systems and quality improvement theories, root cause analysis, and change management steps. Commonly used measurements, statistical tools, quality structure, process, and outcomes will be addressed to evaluate outcomes of quality and safety initiatives in healthcare settings. The course will also address the importance of interprofessional collaboration in the context of change improvement using evidence-based practice, reviewing the implications of variation in practice, and understanding the difference between research and clinical quality improvement. Course information will emphasize approaches applied to solving actual problems using clinical use case scenario. 

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Health Analytics Track Required Courses

Data Wrangling and Exploratory Analysis (3 credits) 

The first half of this 14-week course will introduce students to the statistical software R, emphasizing data retrieval, management, examination, and basic cleaning. Subsequently, we will learn how to use R to derive simple descriptive statistics and graphs. On top of R, we will also introduce the basics of Structured Query Language (SQL) as an alternative to create, manage, and summarize data.

Multivariable Data Analysis and Visualization (3 credits)

Equipped with experience in data management and statistics from the Data Wrangling and Exploratory Analysis course, students will get to further explore how to effectively disseminate their quantitative results using more sophisticated data presentation methods using R and Tableau. At the end, we will put all the components together and learn how to develop a repeatable and replicable workflow in data analytics.

Introduction to Application of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data in Healthcare (3 credits)

In this 14-week course, students will learn to understand and apply concepts in big data (BD) analytics and artificial intelligence (AI)—the two key catalyzers for technological revolution within the context of the healthcare industry—and analyze case studies from healthcare, public health, and research. The course will introduce the concepts of BD, AI, and machine learning (ML) and their application in healthcare. Students will explore the application of supervised, unsupervised ML algorithms and natural language programming (NLP) through various use cases in healthcare including medical diagnosis, disease management, screening, and clinical decision support. Advantages, disadvantages, and ethics of leveraging AI and BD in the healthcare domain will be discussed. As a hands-on lab, students will work with R/RStudio to apply the concepts taught in class. The course will prepare students for a career in the health informatics and analytics space through a real-world understanding of the role of BD and AI within the healthcare context.

GIS/Spatial Epidemiology (3 credits)

In public health, “place” matters, as it is a close reflection of the social and economic deprivation and environmental exposures that can result in significant health disparities that are manifest in health outcomes. Geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial epidemiology are important tools that allow us to present and critically assess spatial distributions and associations. This course will provide students with the basic skills needed to obtain, clean, analyze, and decipher spatial data in a GIS, using a variety of examples (use cases) from public health, nutrition, urban development, and the US Census Bureau. 

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Elective Courses

Informatics for Healthcare Professionals (1.5 credits)

This seven-week course is designed for healthcare professionals. The course learning objectives include applying a system view of informatic problems and gaining practical skills in guiding the development of information technology solutions in healthcare delivery and population health. The course is built around relevant business cases/use cases and functional requirements analysis related to direct patient care in ambulatory or hospital settings, including clinical documentation, care coordination, and medication management. The course includes asynchronous lectures, live online class discussions, individual assessments, and group exercises on business case/use case development.

Informatics for Public Health Professionals (1.5 credits) 

This seven-week course is designed for public health professionals. The course learning objectives include applying a system view of informatic problems and gaining practical skills in guiding the development of information technology solutions for public health practice and health services research. The course is built around relevant business cases/use cases and functional requirements analysis related to public health practices including health statistics, electronic data reporting, syndromic surveillance, and emergency preparedness. The course includes asynchronous lectures and subject matter expert panels, live online class discussions, individual assessments, and group exercises on business case/use case development.

Informatics for Clinical Research (1.5 credits)

In this seven-week course, students will develop an understanding of informatics principles and tools that support the clinical-research life cycle. The course learning objectives include learning the research life cycle, the potential for supporting each phase of that cycle, and currently available tools and initiatives. The course is built around relevant use cases related to clinical research. It includes lectures, readings, tutorials, “live talks,” quizzes, and a final project.  

Design and Evaluation of Digital Health Technologies (3 credits)

Digital technologies are transforming healthcare in a variety of beneficial ways, from streamlining workflow processes to making more precise patient diagnoses. In this course, students will learn how digital technologies in healthcare are designed, applying the principles of user-centered design and cognitive psychology. Students will learn and apply a rigorous, objective, and standardized process of evaluating various health technologies such as web portals, smartphone apps, clinical decision support, and population health management tools. Through the course, students will also investigate the barriers and opportunities for implementing digital technologies in healthcare settings to transform patient care. Finally, students will explore the roles, teams, and skills required to enable technology implementation in healthcare settings in addition to exploring the regulatory and ethical aspects.

Organizational Behavior, Leadership, and Change Management (3 credits)

This 14-week course provides students with an understanding of the principles of organizational behavior (people, structure, technology, and the external environment), leadership, and change; change management; and why change management matters in the success of health informatics and analytics projects. The ability to understand organizational behavior and apply leadership and change management is essential in today’s workforce and a required competency regardless of the person’s role in the organization. Students will develop an understanding of the principles of organizational behavior, leadership, and change management, all with an emphasis on sustaining positive outcomes from informatics and analytics projects. Students will develop strategies for building organizational capacities ensuring engagement of stakeholders and employees. Students will also learn a range of interpersonal skills for teamwork and collaboration, conflict resolution and negotiation, and management and leadership.

Introduction to Python for Health Informatics and Analytics (1.5 credits)

This seven-week course provides students with an introduction to Python, one of the most widely used programming languages in health informatics and analytics. This course will offer a high-level introduction to the language and familiarize students with how it is used in healthcare settings. Students will have an introductory session on the language and user interfaces available, do some coding, and review existing, real-life code examples from healthcare and public health applications.

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Capstone Courses

Capstone Planning Immersion (1.5 credits)

The on-campus Capstone Planning Immersion provides an incubator experience to kick off the capstone project and build the skills necessary to complete a real-world project. Seminars with Health Informatics and Analytics (HIA) faculty on problem-solving frameworks, project management, and group discussions serve as a foundation for the project ahead. You will work with the faculty, subject matter experts, and classmates to refine your project plan. Additional activities in Boston and at Tufts will be scheduled for networking. The immersion will take place over three days on Tufts’ Boston-area campus.

Capstone Practicum (3 credits)

During the Capstone Practicum, you will integrate and apply the health informatics knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to a real-world health data problem at an organization of your choosing. Organizations may include healthcare facilities, research organizations, health information technology vendors, governmental agencies, professional associations, and research organizations. Specific topics for capstone projects may be selected from the HIA Capstone Project Library or proposed by the student.

You are expected to spend approximately 140 hours over a semester on combined on-site and remote work for the selected organization. Specific remote activities may include participation in conference calls for project planning and execution, conducting literature reviews, working with data systems, and developing presentations and publications. You will be supervised by an employee of the organization (preceptor) with whom you meet with at least on a weekly basis. To complete the capstone project, you will develop a deliverable (paper, report, presentation) that will be presented via webinar at the end of the course to classmates, Tufts faculty, and representatives from your selected organization.

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Ready for the Next Step?

If you want to improve outcomes for patients and organizations tomorrow, request information today.