What is the Capstone project?

As a culminating experience, each student will independently put into practice the knowledge and skills they learned during their coursework through a Capstone Project.

Students will have the opportunity to develop and implement a Health Informatics project in their workplace or other academic / industry organizations. The project will challenge each student to conduct research and apply knowledge, skills and competencies built through coursework completed in the MHI program.  

If students are unable to find a real-world project, they can alternatively develop a culminating, two-part project, that will leverage health informatics to provide a solution to a need or problem arising as part of a case study.

Note: Finding a real-world project would be preferred over working on a case study.

Each student will work with the course instructor to identify a “Knowledge Expert” for their capstone project along with a faculty advisor from the Northwestern University Health Informatics program.   

What can students expect during the MHI Capstone course?

A challenging but rewarding experience that would prepare or enhance their professional skills in the field of Health Informatics. There will be a focus on more career and real-world experiences than the other courses in the MHI program.  The Capstone course is more about the hands-on (or applied experiences) in the world of Health Informatics.  Depending on the complexity of your project, you can expect to spend 5 to 10 hours a week, or 50 to 100 hours during the quarter working on your project.

With whom can you do a capstone project ?

Your Employer / Workplace: You may work on a discrete project from your workplace for your capstone project.  This will need to be above and beyond your day-to-day job responsibilities.  You will need to identify a Knowledge Expert / Mentor at your organization to support you during the project.

“Sponsor” organization projects: You may partner with an external organization in the industry who may be interested in sponsoring a capstone project.  There may be opportunities available through Northwestern University or you will need to find one on your own.

Academic Partners:  You may work with a MHI Faculty member, or with other academic partners at Northwestern University (such as Feinberg School of Medicine or Northwestern Memorial Hospital), or other academic institutions to work on an informatics or research based capstone project.

Capstone Project Cases: Alternatively, if you are unable to find a real-world project, you may choose to work on one of the capstone project cases made available through the course.

What is the Capstone Course timeline?

The MHI Capstone Course can only be done in the last quarter of the MHI program prior to your graduation.  Like the other courses in the program, you will have 10 weeks to complete your capstone project. Due to this aggressive timeline in the quarter, we will divide your capstone project in the following phases:

  • Capstone Identification and Proposal: 1-2 weeks
  • Capstone Implementation: 5-7 weeks
  • Capstone Paper and Presentation: 1-2 weeks

How to Prepare for the Capstone

Capstone Pre-Work: Complete prior to starting the Capstone Course
  • Reflect on your career goals. What do you want to do after you graduate from the MHI program?  There is no right or wrong answer to this.  If you have not yet thought about it, this exercise should help you get started.
  • Prepare your CV / Resume that includes your most up to date professional and academic experiences (including the MHI program) prior to the start of the MHI Capstone Course.
  • Start thinking about capstone project ideas that ideally align with your career goals.
  • Do you already have a “sponsor” or organization in mind to do your capstone with?
  • If you are currently working in the healthcare industry, explore possible capstone project opportunities with your employer that would be above and beyond your day-to-day job responsibilities. I would also encourage you to reach out to any relevant contacts in your professional network to find a capstone project opportunity, if needed.
  • Some “sponsors” or organizations will work with you in a virtual environment, while others may prefer an in-person or hybrid model.
  • If you have already selected a project for your capstone, then complete any onboarding work such as contracting, drug tests, training, IRB approvals, etc. as soon as possible so that you can start working on your project implementation during the capstone course.
Capstone Advising Sessions

This Capstone course has been overwhelmingly successful with respect to the student experience based on feedback. The only critique of Capstone is the timeframe – students feel that one quarter to complete the project limits the potential for projects.

In order to address the time constraint of a single quarter, students will be given the opportunity to meet with their capstone instructor during pre-capstone advising sessions in the quarter prior to their capstone. This will allow students to navigate the pre-work with the support of their instructor, allowing for more time to connect with potential partners for their proposed project leading to a more time fulfilling project experience.

Students approaching their final quarter will be contacted to set up an appointment with the capstone instructor during the quarter prior to the capstone.

The MHI Capstone Experience

Student Reflections

MHI faculty member Imran Khan interviewed two of his graduating students, Regina Schwind and Angela Mazzari, to discuss their experiences in the MHI program and their respective Capstone projects.

Recent Capstone Project Topics
  • Reducing Infant and Maternal Mortality Rates in the Black Populations of Athens, GA
  • Population Health Provider and Patient Engagement Strategy
  • Scalable Monitoring System to Address Emergency Care Usage among Patients with Multiple
    Chronic Conditions
  • Improving Anticoagulation Safety & Drug Compliance (of cardiac patients) through a Remote Monitoring System
  • WordGlass: Technology to Provide Live Closed Captioning for the Hearing-
    Impaired in the Health Care Setting
  • Hand Hygiene Audit Tool  
  • Adoption of an Electronic Lab Notebook in a WSU Research Lab
  • Digital Health Solutions for a Rural Healthcare System
  • A Comprehensive Solution to Improving Diabetic Outcomes and Improved Shared- Savings Returns by Achieving the Together to Goal Program Metrics
  • Hierarchical Condition Category Risk Adjustment Documentation in Epic
  • Clinical Decision Support System for the Prenatal Care of Obese Patients at a Family Practice Residency Clinic
  • Engaging High-Need Patients to Produce Scalable High-Value Health Care
  • A Care Management Dashboard for Population Stratification using Johns Hopkins ACG System in the Enterprise Data Warehouse
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