ENME 489A - Risk and Reliability in Healthcare

3 Credits



Required readings in the form of digital book chapters, case-studies, reports, and journal publications will be provided on the ELMS Canvas website.


Quantitative and qualitative reliability and safety analysis methods, including an overview of the healthcare system structure, requirements elicitation, data collection, behavioral modeling, medical errors, system performance indicators, decision support tools, and financial and policy incentives.


This is a course in reliability and risk analysis techniques applied to the healthcare domain. The course will provide students with a fundamental understanding of qualitative and quantitative tools used to perform reliability and safety analyses and make success-critical decisions in health care. The majority of the instruction is through lectures and in-class/online case studies. Independent learning and real-world application is reinforced through two mini projects and a cumulative final course project focusing on solving real-world problems found in the healthcare system.
The course examines six success-critical systems of the healthcare system and the dynamically changing relationship between these systems: Patient, Population, Team, Organization, Network and Environment. The course is structured into three parts focused on: 1) qualitatively and quantitatively identifying the needs, requirements and limitations of the health care system; 2) evaluating health care system reliability; and 3) improving health care system performance. The ultimate goal of the three sections is to provide a systematic quality-driven process for making effective product, process, and system design decisions in health care. 


  • Week 1: Introduction to the Healthcare System
  • Week 2: Healthcare System Structure and Risk Propagation - Patient, Population, Team
  • Week 3: Healthcare System Structure and Risk Propagation - Organization, Network, Environment
  • Week 4: Understanding the Healthcare System - Requirements Eliciation
  • Week 5: Understanding the Healthcare System - Empirical Data Collection
  • Week 6: Modeling the Healthcare System - Qualitative Approaches
  • Week 7: Modeling the Healthcare System - Overview of Quantitative Approaches
  • Week 8-9: Medical Device Reliability
  • Week 10-11: Patient and Healthcare Proivde Reliability
  • Week 12-13: Perofrmance Indicators and Benchmarks
  • Week 14: Decision Support Tools
  • Week 15: Financial and Policy Initiatives for Healthcare Quality

Class/Laboratory Schedule 

  • One 160 minute lecture per week

Last Updated By 
Jessica Stein, August 2017