Health Systems Science

Health Systems Science Core Functional Domains

Patient, Family, Community:
Focused on patient values, behaviors, motivators, and experiences in relation to healthcare understanding and engagement. Understanding the roles family systems and community affiliations play in the context of patient decision-making is a critical component of focus for this domain. Likewise, seeking to view the healthcare system from the perspective of patients, family systems and community stakeholders.

Health Care Structure & Process:
Reflects upon the functions and processes inherently important within the delivery of healthcare and consideration of patient needs, organization structure and culture, and system resources. The healthcare structure and processes vary across systems which adds complexity to navigating. Commitment to quality improvement is a vital component of maintaining both a structure and processes that are efficient, effective, and keep patients at the center. AMA Learning module can be found here.

Health Care Policy & Economics:
Intersectionality of health care policies, production and consumption, and reforms aimed at reaching health care goals at individual patient and broader community levels. Recognizing how federal, state, and local policies and economies influence and impact healthcare is imperative. Likewise, understanding the role that healthcare professionals play as system citizen advocates. AMA Learning module can be found here.

Clinical Informatics & Health Technology:
Utilization of existing and emerging technologies and informatics tools that support real-time, data-informed healthcare decisions while protecting patient rights and optimizing information security. AMA Learning module can be found here.

Population, Public, & Social Determinants of Health:
Commitment to considering and gaining knowledge about the range of factors (societal, cultural, economic, environmental, etc.) that are determinants of health in the lives of individuals, family systems, communities, and society. AMA Learning module, social determinants of health, can be found here and population health can be found here.

Value in Health Care:
Understanding the meaning of value to a myriad of stakeholders, who often hold competing priorities, in the context of a complex healthcare system. Value in healthcare is of strategic importance to all involved stakeholders but is often complicated by evolving barriers. AMA Learning module can be found here.

Health System Improvement:
Possessing a comprehensive understanding of each of the functional domains and how these domains operate collectively and in response to both the foundational domains and overall systems thinking in ways that enhance health system performance. AMA Learning module, quality improvement, can be found here and patient safety 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