MSc Health Data Science / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Health Information Systems and Technologies

Unit code IIDS67601
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Division of Informatics, Imaging and Data Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit will provide an opportunity for students to develop an understanding of health systems and technologies, and their implementation.  In order to understand a health or technology a health data scientist needs to be aware of the core issues and methodologies in developing, deploying and managing a healthcare system, and the impact to healthcare delivery.  It is also paramount to understand how the data is created, collected, stored and retrieved so as to be able to use it.  In particular, the unit will cover the framework for handling patient data in a confidential and secure manner to ethical and quality standards that are appropriate for a modern health service.  To be able to have a full understanding of the issues it is useful to have an insight into how the healthcare has arrived to its present day situation.


The unit aims to:

  • Examine health systems and technologies and evaluate their impact on the delivery of healthcare
  • Understand the issues surrounding the introduction or change of a health information system and/or technology
  • Understand and discuss different approaches and methodologies to systems development, and how and when to apply them
  • Critically appraise systems design/development/delivery and be able to make suggestions on improvement
  • Understand the role of the patient in using technologies and designing systems
  • Understand key concepts and issues around data management and retrieval
  • Equip students with the important principles and knowledge of information governance and security
  • Discuss future thinking around healthcare systems

Learning outcomes

This unit will cover the following indicative content:

  • Health Information Systems and Technologies - social and mobile health technologies; architectures; networks; internet and cloud
  • Data storage and retrieval technologies - databases and Standard Querying Language (SQL)
  • Information governance and security
  • Data models and architecture
  • System testing and quality assurance: ISO-standards
  • System design cycle and methodologies - agile; waterfall
  • Description of main requirements analysis methodologies
  • Evaluation of informatics systems design/development
  • Critical appraisal and understanding failure and success factors of historical and current projects

Teaching and learning methods

This unit will be delivered in a blended format: e-learning preparation matieral will impart basic and core knowledge whilst the face-to-face(F2F) lectures and open discussions will introduce concrete examples and encourage attendees to draw upon their own reading and experience.  Group, problem based learning will show a deeper understanding of the area and encourage collaborative working.  Example case-studies will be drawn from University of Manchester (HeRC) research-driven projects and current NHS projects.  The F2F teaching will be delivered as 3 x two day workshops: each block covering a key section of understanding systems and techonologies; and the workshops will allow the student (as groups) to actively participate in the different stages of systems design culminating in a design of 'informatics' solution using appropriate technologies for a specific healthcare delivery problem.  At the end of the unit, students are asked to present this in a 'dragons den'.  In addition, at regular times in the F2F workshops students will present back to other students and tutor to show and share thinking.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the historical context of health information/IT systems
  • Explain the different approaches to systems development and evaluate how they fit in the broader cycle of development, deployment and maintenance of healthcare systems.
  • Discuss issues surrounding system quality assurance
  • Appreciate future thinking around healthcare systems
  • Discuss the range of technologies available to produce and store data
  • Understand the role of the patient in the health system development
  • Discuss and understand concepts in data modelling

Intellectual skills

  • Determine the impact of introducing new system/techonology in the healthcare system
  • Develop and communicate a strategy to introduce system/technology to address a healthcare issue
  • Critically review a system/technology or data modelling plan and make suggestions for improvement
  • Apply systems methodologies to a healthcare problem
  • Design approaches and queries to retrieve data
  • Apply information governance and security guidelines to information collection and use in healthcare systems

Practical skills

  • Perform and communicate the results of a systems requirements gathering exercise
  • Perform systems methodologies to design a technological  solution to a healthcare problem

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Work collaboratively within a team
  • Present ideas and work in a verbal and written format
  • Understand about resource allocation and project planning
  • Work through the problem-solving cycle

Employability skills

Group/team working
Work collaboratively within a team
Project management
Understand about resource allocation and project planning
Problem solving
Work through the problem solving cycle

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 80%
Oral assessment/presentation 20%

Feedback methods

Formative assessment and feedback to students is a key fature of the on-line learning materials for this unit.  Students will be required to engage in a wide range of interactive exercises to enhance their learning and test their developing knowledge and skills.  In addition, there will be a series of supervised pratical hands-on exericses that will allow for verbal feedback.

Recommended reading

A systems development life cycle approach to patient journey modeling projects.

Curry JM, McGregor C, Tracy S. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2007;129(Pt 2):905-9.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 18
Tutorials 24
Work based learning 25
Independent study hours
Independent study 83

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Georgina Moulton Unit coordinator
Alan Davies Unit coordinator

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