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What is Health Systems Science?

Health Systems Science (HSS) is the study of holistically improving patient care and healthcare delivery via a comprehensive teams approach. Considered the “third medical science” within a three-pillar model of medical education, health systems science provides an integrated lens combining biologic, psychological, social, and systems components through which healthcare professionals can holistically make informed decisions.

What is Health Systems Science comprised of?

Health Systems Science incorporates micro-, meso-, and macro-level aspects of healthcare knowledge, function and delivery into a comprehensive framework that can be implemented and scaled across the healthcare landscape. HSS is comprised of core functional domains, foundational domains, and a linking domain. Each domain, and the contents within, are emerging and therefore evolving as knowledge and understanding expand.

What is Health Systems Science ideally designed to do?

Health Systems Science is designed to provide a comprehensive framework to facilitate knowledge acquisition, support change management, and increase skill development needed to identify and address challenges.  Ideally, this occurs when we view healthcare through broader person and population lenses, when we  integrate and optimize interventions across the full spectrum of our capabilities, and track the results within complex healthcare delivery systems.

Who will benefit from a health systems science approach?

The incorporation of a health systems science knowledge-base into the education and practice of healthcare professionals provides a strong foundation for holistic understanding of how care is delivered, how healthcare teams work effectively together to deliver care, and how to iteratively integrate best-practice to improve patient care and healthcare delivery. Along the continuum, the entire system benefits.

AMA Learning Series module can be found here.

Modified from: Skochelak SE, Hammoud MM, Lomis KD, Borkan JM, Gonzalo JD, Lawson LE, Starr SR, eds. Health Systems Science. 2nd Ed. Philadelphia, PA: AMA Education Consortium; 2021.