Monday, May 17, 2010

The Missing Piece in Health Care Reform: Health Care Delivery Science - U.S. Politics Today

Dartmouth College has received a $35 million commitment to establish The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, PresidentJim Yong Kim announced today.  The anonymous gift will advance a new field of study, harnessing the knowledge and expertise of faculty across multiple disciplines from the arts and sciences as well as from the medical, business and engineering schools.  

Kim said the gift will speed Dartmouth's work on the next stage of needed health care reform: "The passage of health reform was a historic event that will result in millions of Americans having access to our health care system. Health Care Delivery Science is about ensuring that the care they receive is the best it can be."

"We know – and this has been documented by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care – that there are glaring variations in how medical resources are used in the U.S. More care and more expensive care do not guarantee high quality care," Kim said. "What we need is a new field that brings the best minds – from management, systems engineering, anthropology, sociology, the medical humanities, environmental science, economics, health services research, and medicine – to focus on how we deliver the best quality care, in the best way, to patients nationally and globally. Those people are here at Dartmouth."

Senators Judd Gregg, R-NH, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, applauded the new Center:

Senator Gregg noted that studies from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice "are constantly turned to by policymakers in Washington, especially as they relate to getting better health care at a more affordable cost. The establishment of this new Center will put the findings ofDartmouth researchers into practice and will further the Institute's efforts to advance health care innovation, rein in health care costs, and provide quality care for people throughout the country."

Said Senator Shaheen: "The formation of the Center for Health Care Delivery Science is great news. This will help Dartmouth remain on the cutting-edge of studying our health system and developing new practices to make health care delivery more efficient and cost effective. I look forward to working with and supporting President Kim and the Center in their efforts, especially as we implement new laws that will provide affordable health coverage to millions more Americans."

In addition to integrating across the Arts and Sciences (undergraduate and graduate), the Tuck School of Business, the Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth Medical School, and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Health Care Delivery Science creates a unique partnership between the College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock, its affiliated academic health system. Dartmouth-Hitchcock will provide the base for innovation and implementation in clinical practice, said Co-Presidents James N. Weinstein and Nancy Formella.

"In the past decade, Dartmouth-Hitchcock has created a number of innovative models in clinical care, including the Spine Center, the first-in-the-nation Center for Shared Decision-Making, and the Comprehensive Breast Program," Weinstein said. "This is a fantastic opportunity to build new partnerships within the College, and take advantage of President Kim's experience in tackling the challenge of health care delivery in some of the most difficult settings in the world."

One of the first initiatives will be a new Master's program in Health Care Delivery Science, offered jointly by The Dartmouth Institute and the Tuck School of Business. Traditional health care management courses have been built around general "best business" practices from a wide range of professions. The Dartmouth curriculum will be unique in its singular focus on discovery and analysis of innovations and real-time implementation in health care. Executive education and distance learning will be incorporated into the new degree program, scheduled to enroll its first class in July 2011. Undergraduate offerings in this field will be developed as well, Kim said.

Dartmouth Provost Carol L. Folt said: "Health care is now one-sixth of the U.S. economy, and arguably as important as any issue we face today. Our undergraduate students, whatever their career path, will be affected by its impact on our economy, national discourse, and of course, will experience health care first-hand as patients or family members of patients. We know that teaching political science, economics, sociology, philosophy, etc. to our students is critical to their liberal arts education. The opportunity to study health care and its impact on society – in its broadest form – will only enhance our ability to produce enlightened graduates and leaders."

Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric and a Dartmouth trustee said: "As an employer of 300,000 people around the world and with $3 billion of our resources going into health care for our people each year, there are few issues more important to me and to GE than the quality and cost of health care. I'm proud of Dartmouth for taking this on, for applying expertise from across the College to the challenges, and for partnering so effectively with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system."

The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science will focus on five areas with a goal of improving the quality, effectiveness, and value of health care for patients, their families, providers, and populations. 

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