Doctors writing at a conference


June 25, 2015

RAND Announces New Center of Excellence on Health System Performance

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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has funded the RAND Corporation, in collaboration with researchers from Pennsylvania State University, UCLA, and Harvard University, to create a Center of Excellence on Health System Performance. The center's charter is to characterize high-performing health systems — those that are able to more quickly translate new evidence into clinical practice. The ultimate goal is to identify the most effective ways to disseminate results of patient-centered outcomes research to physicians and to health care delivery systems, and to promote the use of such evidence to benefit patients.

The work of the RAND Center of Excellence is motivated by the rapidly changing landscape of health systems and the implications these changes have for achieving better outcomes for patients. Over the course of the five-year project, RAND will characterize and classify health systems; assess the extent to which they use new evidence derived from patient-centered outcomes research; and identify factors that are associated with high performance, as measured by both clinical outcomes and costs. The RAND Center will utilize a “deep dive” data collection strategy to yield a richer understanding of the complex factors that contribute to health system performance.

The center will address the following questions:

  • What attributes characterize different types of health systems?
  • How do the attributes of health systems evolve over time and do the changes in health system structures affect performance?
  • How do different types of health systems compare on quality and cost performance?
  • What “features” of health systems — such as deployment of clinical decision support, adoption of risk-based payment models, or utilization of care redesign strategies — are related to rapid adoption of evidence-based care practices?
  • Are some markets, such as those that are highly competitive, more likely to generate high performance health systems?

Five regional health improvement collaboratives are providing the laboratory for the center's work. The regional partners are the Integrated Healthcare Association of California, Washington State Health Alliance, Minnesota Community Measurement, Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, and Health Bridge in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The center will be led by Cheryl Damberg, senior principal researcher and professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and M. Susan Ridgely, senior policy analyst. For more information, contact

David Adamson