Studying Clinical Microsystems

Betty A. Marton for HealthLeaders Media , April 13, 2012
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This article appears in the April 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Long Island Jewish Medical Center transformed its approach to caring for hospitalized patients with cystic fibrosis by developing a method of self-administration using a clinical microsystems approach, that is, the combination of a small team of people who work together to provide care, and the individuals who receive that care—a discrete subpopulation of patients. Clinical microsystems have clinical and business aims, linked processes, and a shared information environment and produces services and care, which can be measured as performance outcomes. Clinical microsystems must deliver the work of caring for patients, meet staff needs, and maintain themselves as a clinical unit.

The application of the clinical microsystems framework, in addition to reducing costs and managing variations in practice, is one of the cornerstones of the 18-month master of healthcare delivery science program at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in conjunction with the Tuck School of Business. As part of the inaugural class of the program, a team of five professionals from LIJ Medical Center will learn to apply the findings and methods of clinical microsystems and other cutting-edge research on such issues as small area variation and shared decision-making to their organizations to improve the value of healthcare services provided.

"One of the challenges we're always facing is that healthcare is constantly changing," says Fatima Jaffrey, MD, director of outcomes research. "Leading change in a complex environment is incredibly exciting—to see what's possible and show senior leaders what the frontlines can do."

This article appears in the April 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.




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