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Dartmouth Launches New Center to Further Science of Health Care

By John Reichard, CQ HealthBeat Editor

May 17, 2010 -- Dartmouth College, for many years at the cutting edge of research showing flaws in the nation's health care delivery system, announced a new initiative Monday to advance research on health care.

An anonymous $35 million gift will be used to launch the "Center for Health Care Delivery Science," Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim announced.

Kim noted that millions of Americans will be gaining coverage under the new overhaul law. The emerging field of health care delivery science "is about ensuring that the care they receive is the best it can be," he said in a news release.

Dartmouth research has uncovered "glaring variations in how medical resources are used" across the country, with the greater use of resources no guarantee of higher quality, he said.

"We need a new field of science to study how to deliver health care with higher quality and lower costs," Kim explained in a Washington Post editorial Monday co-authored with James N. Weinstein, president of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic.

They wrote that "it is time to focus on the next step: improving quality while bending the unsustainable cost curve significantly."

They added, "Experts in management, systems thinking and engineering, sociology, anthropology, environmental science, economics, medicine, health policy and other fields must join together to apply a laser focus to fixing the delivery system."

The announcement comes at a time when the costs of coverage expansion are fueling concerns about adding to deficit spending. Elements of the new program to curb rising spending while improving quality include expanded research on health care delivery, and an international network of "innovation centers" to develop and disseminate best treatment practices.

The center also will include an "advocacy" component to urge state and federal policy changes to promote new models of care.

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