Based at Keele University in Staffordshire, the Centre is specifically concerned with the planning and management of health services. Created in 1986, it is acknowledged as an important research and development centre and a major provider of innovative postgraduate teaching.
The research and development activities of the Centre operate under three broad categories: Health Policy, Health Services Management and Health Services Research. The teaching programmes focus on strengthening the managerial capacity and sensitivity to policy of health service personnel, both in the UK and internationally.
In all areas of work, the Centre has established a proven track record of quality and innovation. Its achievements have earned the Centre a well-deserved reputation for its significant contribution to understanding contemporary issues and for the quality of its publications.
Building on its success, the Centre is continually developing further areas of excellence in
order to advance the relevance and effectiveness of its activities.
Course Structure and Content
The programme is delivered in two parts:
• A taught element, consisting of three one-week courses, each assessed by written assignment ( x20 credits)
• An applied health operational research project (60 credits)
The taught element of the programme comprises an introductory ‘signature’ weekend and three 5-day courses over the course of the year.
Participants will join MBA or Diploma classes for the three taught courses. Two courses are compulsory; the third is elective; chosen from a list of courses which directly contribute to health operational research training.
The courses to be taken are set out below.
Course 1 (Compulsory) – Management Science
Course 2 (Elective) – One course, selected from:
• Customer Relations and Marketing
• Accounting and Financial Management
• Health Economics
Course 3 (Compulsory) – Operations Management
Management Science focuses on analytical and data management methods.
Indicative themes for the course are:
• Principles of Health and Health Service Information Management
• Operational Research Modelling Methods and Decision Support Systems
• Project Planning and Project Management
• Performance Measurement and Performance Management
• Problem Structuring and Group Decision Support
• Epidemiology and its Applications
• Measurement, Analysis and Management of Risk
Operations Management is concerned with the effective and efficient management of resources. Theories and techniques will be introduced and considered within the context of the key health service themes, for example:
• Needs assessment and service planning (eg assessing the impacts of the ageing of the population)
• Capacity management; (eg supply of services to meet waiting list targets)
• ‘Value for money’ (eg the evaluation of changes in services)
• Investment/dis-investment decisions (eg assessing how new medical technologies might be introduced whilst keeping within resource constraints)
• Information usage in planning, monitoring and evaluation of services; and the development of information and decision-support systems (eg addressing the problem of winter ‘pressures’ on emergency services)
• Quality assurance (eg issues surrounding the establishment of clinical governance)
• Organisational change (eg developing effective multi-agency working)
The use of case studies will be a key feature of the course.
• Health Services, Customer Relations and Management – the elements of this course include: the nature of and processes for analysis of the socio-economic and political factors in the healthcare environment; methods for analysis of consumer behaviour and
public opinion in relation to health and health services, and their congruence with professional judgement and management strategy; quality assurance and clinical governance frameworks and techniques; the reconciliation of customer relations and marketing with incentives for managers; the law and consumerism.
• Accounting and Financial Management – the objective of this course is to provide candidates with an appreciation of the nature and analysis of budgets, costs, and activities, and an understanding of resource management and financial information in the health
sector. The module will also embrace an assessment of financial performance and of financial decision-making. Following an examination of standard accounting and financial techniques, health service specific topics such as costing and pricing; capital charging;
option appraisal, corporate financing, cost centres, market trading, budgetary control and incentives will be introduced.
• Health Economics and Management – the syllabus for this course includes: uses of economic analysis, such as cost-benefit and cost-effective analysis; the integration of economic methods and concepts into strategic processes of planning, programming, and
budgeting; economic evaluation and issues of clinical behaviour and control; incentives and barriers to efficient behaviour.
The aim of this module will be to familiarise candidates with the key analytical concepts and methodologies of health economics, in order to increase their capabilities in applying these to the planning and management of health services.
On successful completion of the three taught modules, candidates will be eligible to be awarded a Certificate in Health Operational Research and Management Science.
It is normally expected that candidates will then proceed to the second year to complete the Diploma. Successful completion of the dissertation and taught element of the programme leads to the award of the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Operational Research.
The Diploma is subject to continuous assessment. For each of the three courses, candidates are required to submit an assignment of 3,000-4,000 words. The assignments tend to be presented in a role-play format in which participants are asked to apply critically concepts, methods and techniques to a ‘real-life’ situation and to assess the value of so doing. The assignments are aimed to assess how well candidates are able to integrate theory, method and practice.
Assignments are marked by the Course Director or specialist teacher, and the marking criteria are made known to the participants. A representative sample from each set of course assignments is forwarded to the External Examiner for verification of the level of marking.