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Health Systems-Related Topics

We do not believe there is one universal way to categorize health systems topics, particularly as issues evolve over time. Acknowledging that variation, we believe the fields of health services research and health systems science provide useful starting points for identifying health systems-related topics.


The Collective adapts candidate topics to existing efforts and growth opportunities in the Department, and the broader School of Medicine and UW communities. The process has yielded a number of focus areas:


Care delivery. Outcomes can be affected by aspects of care delivery – that is, how health care is organized and provided. A core element of health systems work is understanding and addressing care models, settings, teams, and other issues; and their relationship with different patient and population outcomes.

Population health. Clinicians and health care organizations play key roles in supporting population health – the health outcomes of groups of individuals. In turn, improving health systems involves understanding and improving how different health care initiatives affect the health of clinical and other populations.


Social Determinants of Health. There is widespread recognition that health outcomes are affected by social determinants and other factors outside of the traditional health care system. This dynamic creates an imperative to understand and address both how health care and social determinants combine to impact outcomes.

Behavior. Patient outcomes can be affected by systematic decisions from organizations and clinicians about how to organize and deliver care. In turn, understanding organizational and clinician behavior is a systems issue.

Payment. While by no means the only factor, payment and financial incentives drive many activities in health care. In turn, understanding existing and emerging payment incentives – and how they relate to other aspects of care, including equity, care delivery, clinical outcomes and patient experience – is central to understanding systems of health care.

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