Five QIOs, CMS, Create Innovative Partnership to Improve Health Quality By Studying Complex Health Care Systems

Richmond, VA (November 17) Five QIOs--Virginia Health Quality Center, Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care, HealthInsight, MassPRO, and Qualis Health--have joined with CMS in an innovative partnership to accelerate health quality improvement through study of the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of complex health care systems.

In the CMS-funded effort, the five QIOs will develop a learning and research community in conjunction with the New England Complex Systems Institute, a collaborative research and educational institution with faculty from Boston-area institutions including, Harvard, MIT, Brandeis, and Boston University. NECSI has provided educational and technical assistance to, among others, Microsoft, the World Bank, Group Health Cooperative, EMC Corporation, and MITRE.

Two staff members will represent each organization at NECSI learning community seminars. Participants will learn:

  • How to identify effective and ineffective patterns of organizational behavior;

  • How organizational structure is related to effectiveness across many possible tasks;

  • How individuals and organizations adapt, for better or worse, to the environment in which they exist; and

  • How to create an environment in which individual and organizational adaptation promotes effectiveness.

These meetings will plan and discuss application research projects. Through this research, the QIOs and CMS will develop and experiment with new tools and intervention models to accelerate quality improvement related to CMS priorities. The objective is to improve the capabilities of the QIO organizations as well as the impact of their interventions. Information and approaches developed through this project will be disseminated throughout the QIO community, in order to have a national impact on health care quality.

According to Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam of NECSI, “The current health care system is a complex system performing complex tasks under great stress. From the study of complex systems, we know more than ever before about what can make them perform safely and effectively. We can identify relationships between system structure and tasks to be performed and describe the process by which such complex systems are formed.

Applying this knowledge to health care to identify system vulnerabilities as well as strengths, we can develop sound interventions to improve system effectiveness.