Writing a Thesis
Find a thesis supervisor before you apply
Finding a thesis supervisor before you apply to the MSc in Health Systems program will give you a much greater advantage of gaining entry into the program if you meet all the admission requirements. By having a thesis supervisor and some idea of the topic you would like to pursue before you apply, you show the admissions committee that you are ready to start your research journey.
Health Researchers at the Telfer School
Information technology, systems analysis, change management, clinical decision-making, inter-organizational relationships—and much, much more. Health-systems research is a truly multi-disciplinary field. The Telfer Master of Science in Health Systems enables you to gain a keen understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of health-systems research, and the deep and varied knowledge you need to embark on a rewarding career in this challenging field.
Acquire comprehensive knowledge
Our faculty members perfectly illustrate the distinctive nature of health-systems research. These experts—drawn from the Telfer School, from across the University of Ottawa, and from local healthcare institutions—make it possible for you to gain a depth and breadth of knowledge that is indispensable for health-systems research. Armed with this intellectual strength, you’ll be perfectly positioned to undertake meaningful and rewarding thesis research.
Gain an academic and career mentor
Our accomplished faculty also provides you with academic and professional guidance. Your thesis supervisor will counsel you as you prepare your thesis proposal, as you determine the site of your Health Systems Research Internship and as you carry out research for your thesis. This distinguished expert will also be readily available to advise you as you weigh different career options.
- Pavel Andreev
Professor Andreev's research is focused on modeling and exploring the performance of commercial and non-commercial organizations at the individual, team, and organizational level.
- Sarah Ben Amor
Professor Ben Amor's research is focused on multi-criteria decision making. Her expertise in model building and uncertainty modelling associated with multi-criteria analysis has benefited various health care projects such as assisting in the therapeutic choice problem or funding orphan drugs.
- Silvia Bonaccio
Professor Bonaccio's research focuses on the facilitators of positive work experiences for employees living with disabilities.
- Kevin Brand
Grounded in the risk sciences (i.e., drawing upon relevant probability, data-analysis, decision-analysis, population health modelling, and psycho-social insights), Professor Brand's research aims to develop tools that improve how we manage health systems and health risks.
- Samia Chreim (Ian Telfer Professorship in Health Organization Studies)
Professor Chreim's research interests revolve around the topics of change, leadership, identity, and professional roles and practices. She studies these topics from an inter-level perspective and in a variety of health care contexts.
- Jennifer Dimoff
Professor Dimoff studies occupational health and safety, with emphasis on the impact of leadership and workplace mental health training on employees, leaders, and organizations.
- Francois Durand (Montfort Research Chair in the Organization of Health Services)
Professor Durand examines how collaboration between health care professionals, technicians, support staff, and patients contributes to implement change and optimize services.
- Agnes Grudniewicz
Professor Grudniewicz’s research interests are qualitative and mixed-methods research on health system integration, primary and community-based care, complex patients, care coordination, physician behaviour, and goal-oriented practice.
- Mirou Jaana
Professor Jaana’s research interests are at the intersection of Health Care Management and Medical Informatics with a focus on the implementation and impacts of information technology in health care and the use of telehealth to support elderly with chronic conditions.
- Laurent Lapierre
Professor Lapierre studies how experiences at work (job characteristics, workplace relationships) can help rather than hinder individuals' mental health.
- Lysanne Lessard
Professor Lessard’s research aims at producing new models and methods for the design, transformation, and evaluation of health systems and services.
- Rafid Mahmood
Professor Mahmood’s research focuses on how machine learning can be used to support clinical decision-making and healthcare operations as well as how best to develop and deploy machine learning models for these applications.
- Wojtek Michalowski
Professor Michalowski is conducting research on modelling clinical practice guidelines for complex patients and developing computer-based tools to support shared decision making.
- Muriel Mignerat
Professor Mignerat’s research is interested in IS Project Management Practices and their Evolution; IS Consulting and Psychological Contracts; Adoption of Information Technology (IT) in Elite Soccer Championships; and, IT Productivity Paradox in Health.
- Onur Ozturk
Professor Ozturk is interested in large scale optimization problems arising from production, transport and healthcare industries.
- Jonathan Patrick
Professor Patrick applies the tools of operations research to scheduling and capacity planning problems in health care.
- Bijan Raahemi
Professor Raahemi’s research interests are Data Mining, and Machine Learning with their applications in health care, wellness, and evidence-based management of health care systems.
- Gilles Reinhardt
Professor Reinhardt focuses on applications of operations and supply chain management pertaining to health care. He has done research on capacity planning and discharge timing in hospital settings, hand-off processes in surgical wards, and is currently focusing on prescription drug formulary decisions.
- Umar Ruhi
Umar’s research interests lie at the intersection of Information Systems and Knowledge Management. Furthermore, most of his empirical research projects are predicated upon an interdisciplinary perspective grounded within the milieu of social informatics.
- Antoine Sauré
Professor Sauré’s research focuses on advanced modelling and decision-making under uncertainty and their applications to large-scale problems in service operations. In particular, he studies resource allocation problems in health care and other areas.
- Christopher Sun
Professor Sun’s research revolves around developing optimization, prediction, and simulation models to support clinical decision making, healthcare system redesign, and the development of public health policies.
- William Van Woensel
Professor Van Woensel's research covers innovative decision support and mobile tools based on digital knowledge, together with the discovery of real-world clinical and business processes, to help professionals and patients in everyday decision making.
Supervisors from other faculties
- Tracey O’Sullivan
Professor O’Sullivan and her students in The EnRiCH Research Lab use an asset-based, systems-approach to generate knowledge about factors that contribute to community resilience in a disaster context, with particular emphasis on inclusive engagement of high-risk populations, (eg. stroke survivors and caregivers, persons with varying abilities/disabilities, and persons experiencing home or food insecurity).
- Chantal Backman
- Ivy Bourgeault
- Simone Dahrouge (Bruyere)
- Raywat Deonandan
- Ken Farion (CHEO)
- Alan Foster (The Ottawa Hospital)
- Linda Garcia
- Peter Tugwell
- Sanni Yaya
Making a difference. Right now, our students serve as valuable contributors to research projects that have the potential to impact the lives of patients, the work of healthcare providers and the direction of modern healthcare.
The thesis research of these talented health-systems researchers spans a range of subjects—from analyzing overcrowding in hospital emergency departments, to studying the socio-economic factors that raise the risk of heart disease, to looking for new ways to provide better healthcare services to patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
The work of our students and alumni is recognized by many. In fact, many of them have received research scholarships from federal agencies to help them pursue their research.
Discover our students’ and recent graduates’ exciting research
Are you ready to join this elite cadre of budding researchers? Find out by taking a closer look at our current crop of students and recent alumni:
"My work as a Decision Support Analyst at Bruyère Continuing Care involves the production of routine and ad hoc reports related to five main areas: patient flow metrics, quality of care indicators, cost efficiency analysis, funding forecasts and development of reporting tools.
Patient flow metric reports require collecting, merging datasets and analyzing admission, discharge and resource complexity data from multiple hospital care programs within the organization. This information is closely tracked as it represents the performance input used by the Ministry of Health’s funding formula to determine the funding allocation. Data quality assessments are performed periodically to determine consistency of internal data with the Ministry’s data.
Quality of care indicators are calculated using data from internal and external databases and reported periodically. These indicators are related to events such as falls, medication incidents, pressure ulcers, infections and others. Some of them are monitored for the purpose of meeting targets set by the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and others to monitor performance trends of care units within the hospital.
Cost efficiency analysis involves developing a what-if model in order to determine the possible impact of different decisions (variables) and the uncertainty in the parameters (sensitivity analysis). Most of the models I have developed are used to determine the optimal bed capacity of care units by comparing trade-offs between costs and expected funding at different levels of patient volume and resource complexity. A ramification of this type of work is the forecasting of hospital funding, which requires understanding the relation of all variables used in the Ministry’s funding formula and the accurate projection of variables using data analysis such as scatter diagrams and curve fitting.
Finally, I collaborate with multiple departments by developing Excel reports that collect raw data from multiple internal databases in order to create meaningful visualization of data into dashboards and other user-friendly formats that allow users without Excel skills an easy exploration of data.
As a graduate of the Health Systems Program I believe the program's focus on quality research contributed to my ability to approach problems from a system’s perspective and with a critical eye – characteristics that have helped me succeed at my current job."
"I graduated from the Telfer School of Management with an MSc in Health Systems, and found a job in my field soon after my graduation. I currently work at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute as a Clinical Research Assistant. My role involves coordinating multiple research projects and performing data analysis. Currently, I am coordinating a national study on the use of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy using a qualitative approach to develop an implementation tool for knowledge translation. In this role, I collect and analyze qualitative data to identify factors contributing to the behaviour, to develop an appropriate implementation tool (e.g. decision-aid). In addition to this project, I am coordinating a Cochrane systematic review and a study on radiation therapy. My Masters degree helped me develop many of my research skills. It also strengthened my ability to work independently and to think of creative solutions."
"The MSc Health Systems program at the University of Ottawa prepares students for a future in a variety of health and research contexts. I have been able to apply the skills and knowledge from the program to professional opportunities such as an internship at the World Health Organization in Geneva and a research assistantship at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. In addition to providing opportunities to build upon methodology skills, the background in systems thinking and the Canadian healthcare system gave me the edge I needed to be successful in a PhD program. I frequently refer back to the resources and learnings from the program. Looking back, what was significantly impactful was how the faculty fostered my passion for understanding complex public health issues that have a direct effect on experiences and behaviours. This support and encouragement propelled me into pursuing a doctoral degree. The research I conducted for my MSc thesis put me directly into a hospital setting where I could understand lived experiences and how various system factors influence our health experiences, perceptions and behaviours. I have brought these practical research skills with me to my doctoral courses, assignments and research. Without the training in systems-thinking, social theory and research methods, I would not achieved my academic and professional goals."
"I did my Msc Health Systems at Telfer. The courses that we did covered a variety of areas in the Health Sector. The research I conducted in partnership with The Ottawa Hospital for my thesis really prepared me for the work I am currently doing. I am employed in the Analytics division of a company whose mission is “to serve those who save lives”. We provide evidence-based deployment models for Emergency Services to clients around the world. My role as Data and Implementation Specialist is varied and constantly changing. As a company we provide software solutions to clients or carry out consultation projects. Having created my own simulation for my masters, it has been much easier to work with and understand the development (software) side of the business. One of our solutions is a simulation model and the other is a real time optimization model. Both solutions aim to evaluate and improve performance. We answer hard questions for Ambulance trusts backed up by evidence and then teach them how to use the software themselves going forward. Each project or implementation can take anywhere from 6 month to 2 years. There are a number of phases we work through with unique challenges each time. I work at all stages of the projects - meeting clients, understanding the problem, analysing their raw data, developing accurate business logic to match historical data for a specific time period, tuning, testing, implementing the model, training the end users and providing ongoing and continuous support. I am fairly confident that I would never have gotten this opportunity if it hadn’t been for the MSc in Health Systems."
"Since completing my MSc in Health Systems, I have gone on to pursue a PhD in Health Research Methodology, Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University. I am currently in my fourth year of the program, and my thesis is focused on developing and piloting a knowledge translation-based intervention to improve systems of decision making in multidisciplinary cancer conferences. In addition, I hold a position at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton as a research methodologist for the Division of Thoracic Surgery, Robotic Research Program. My experience in health systems has allowed me to be involved in many forms of multidisciplinary research, including surgical education, service delivery for mental health interventions, and evaluation of nursing practices."
Hadeel Al Yacoob
"As an international student, the MSc in Health Systems enabled me to explore and understand the Canadian Health Care system. The program courses played a critical role in establishing my knowledge in different areas of health care research and methodologies. Moreover, I gained valuable practical experience from my three-month internship with the Knowledge Synthesis Group of the Centre for Practice-Changing Research of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, under the supervision of Dr. David Moher and Ms. Chantelle Garritty. During my internship, I had the chance to work with and learn from experienced well-known researchers. In addition, I was fortunate to have the health economist Dr. Douglas Angus as my supervisor and Dr. Jonathan Patrick as my co-supervisor who provided me with outstanding guidance in the areas of my research interests which are health economics and simulation methodologies."
Vital support for student researchers
The Research Office at the Telfer School of Management helps graduate students prepare scholarship applications, ethics submissions and proposals to internal and external funding agencies. The Office also organizes events tailored to meet the needs of students, and provides information on professional-development activities available to students.
Visit the official Research Office website for more details.