Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session

Labs: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session


This course brings together students that span the engineering, business, public health, and medical disciplines and create collaborative ecosystems that will incubate, implement and scale eHealth technologies.


Rural and resource-limited settings face significant hurdles including poor infrastructure (including the absence of hospitals and paved roads), disproportionate disease burden, malnutrition, and untreated chronic conditions. These obstacles are usually complicated by ineffective and inefficient treatment, magnified by the lack of adequately trained medical professionals.

Innovative mobile information services have the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery in remote areas by improving patients’ access to medical specialists allowing effective diagnosis and intervention. However there are financial, structural, cultural, and technological hurdles one must overcome to successfully deliver mobile information services. This requires a coordinated multidisciplinary approach to foster an innovative ecosystem in order to transform healthcare delivery.


This course is a collaborative offering of Sana, Partners in Health, and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). The goal of this course is the development of innovations in information systems for developing countries that will (1) translate into improvement in health outcomes, (2) strengthen the existing organizational infrastructure, and (3) create a collaborative ecosystem to maximize the value of these innovations. Teaching students the science of improvement and scale is a strategy for capacity-building that has not been fully explored by current vertical programs that have focused on providing clinical skills to Community Health Workers (CHWs).

The course will be taught by guest speakers who are internationally recognized experts in the field and who, with their operational experiences, will outline the challenges they faced and detail how these were addressed. As well as inviting them to share expertise in the areas where they are familiar, we ask our speakers to talk about quality improvement concepts such as value chain analysis, operations management and organizational change. We will be taking the speakers outside their comfort zone and will ask them to share the insights they gain in discovering how foundational work in quality improvement can be applied to seemingly intractable global health care problems.

This offering is a continuation of our overall objective to study the development of innovations in information systems to accelerate improvements in health outcomes for developing countries. The main themes of this year’s course will be: (1) identifying key challenges and real problems, (2) design paradigms and approaches, and (3) evaluation and the challenges in measuring impact.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand healthcare gaps and inefficiencies in developing countries and resource-poor settings
  • Learn about strategies for improving the quality of care using information systems in resource-poor settings
  • Project management and coordination skills on a multidisciplinary, cross-continental team
  • Learn value-chain analysis, process re-engineering, design learning systems and quality improvement in the context of eHealth projects

Learning Tools

  • Case studies and class discussion
  • Readings
  • Presentations
  • Final student project or paper

Coursework and Grading

Individual: Classroom participation and preparation, case study, and professionalism 30%
Group project updates: Milestone assignments, weekly progress reports to project mentor 30%
Final project: Presentation and report 30%
Teamwork: Three team surveys, reporting contributions and feedback, communication, coordination, and professionalism 10%


Each class session is organized around a particular case, and/or required readings. In addition to these required readings, related articles have been listed below as supplementary recommended readings. Although not required for class, you are encouraged take advantage of these resources to explore topics of particular interest to you. You may also want to make use of these recommended readings for your final paper.

Buntin, M. B., et al. “The Benefits Of Health Information Technology: A Review Of The Recent Literature Shows Predominantly Positive Results.” Health Affairs 30, no. 3 (2011): 464–71.

Marczak, J., et al. “Addressing Systemic Challenges to Social Inclusion in Health Care: Initiatives of the Private Sector.” (PDF) Americas Society. Whitepaper, March 7, 2011.

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples