Dartmouth's President Jim Kim and his colleague James Weinstein make a sensible suggestion in an opinion article in the Washington Post, entitled, "Health Reform's Next Test."
We propose the rapid expansion of a new field to tackle the twin problems of how to provide high-quality health care while lowering costs: health-care delivery science.
...Experts in management, systems thinking and engineering, sociology, anthropology, environmental science, economics, medicine, health policy and other fields must join together to apply a laser focus to fixing the delivery system.
...We need a whole new cadre of people committed to applying their expertise to the challenge of health-care delivery.
We have begun building that cadre at Dartmouth with the establishment of a Center for Health Care Delivery Science. But it is our hope that many more institutions will work together to generate the needed evidence on health-care delivery solutions, to disseminate that knowledge and to train the current and future professionals who will put solutions into practice. We envision a network of centers across the country that will marry research and implementation from the start -- finding and testing delivery solutions with practitioners and patients on the front lines.
The four Massachusetts medical schools could be key partners in this effort, especially if they worked together to design coordinated curricula and research opportunities for faculty and students. I met with Jim Kim when he was at Harvard, before he knew he was going to be offered the Dartmouth job, and we talked excitedly about this possibility. That meeting is what prompted this blog post in July of 2008:
When will the thoughtful deans of our medical schools take on the concept of introducing the science of care delivery as a major focus of the curriculum, so that their faculty and new generations of doctors come to believe that field to be as interesting as the study of disease, diagnosis, and therapies? The opportunity exists for leadership opportunities for those universities that pave the way in this arena.
Lucien Leape has addressed this need in detail. Jim now generously offers the idea of a multi-institutional partnership. Is there a chance our folks will join in?