Health care delivery focus of new center at Dartmouth

An anonymous donor's $35 million grant leads to a new multidisciplinary center at the New Hampshire-based college.

By Doug Trapp — Posted June 2, 2010

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Dartmouth College is poised to boost its research into health care delivery significantly, thanks to a $35 million anonymous donation.

The funding will create the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, where academicians from varying backgrounds will look for ways to improve the delivery of health care in the U.S. and around the world, the college announced on May 17.

Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim, MD, PhD, said the federal health reform law will result in millions more Americans having access to the U.S. health care system. "Health care delivery science is about ensuring that the care they receive is the best it can be," he said.

Dr. Kim said the center will be a leader in a new field of research where experts in many fields -- including management, systems engineering, anthropology, sociology, economics, medicine and others -- will focus on how to deliver the best quality care, in the best way. "Those people are here at Dartmouth," he added.

The college already is home to the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, which has extensively researched regional variations in health care delivery and published them in the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, along with many other journals. The institute will become part of the new Center for Health Care Delivery Science.

The health policy institute is known for research concluding that higher health care spending does not improve health outcomes -- and in many cases makes them worse. However, critics have said the institute's variation studies have limited applicability to public policy because of flaws in their structure, including the difficulties of conducting valid comparisons of regions around the country.

Dartmouth will not be alone in researching best practices in health care delivery. The national health reform law creates the nonprofit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct comparative effectiveness research, examining the effects of different treatments, drugs and devices on the same illness or condition. The law provides $10 million to the outcomes institute in fiscal 2010, $50 million in fiscal 2011 and $150 million in fiscal 2012.

Last year's economic stimulus package also provided $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research, including $300 million to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, $400 million to the National Institutes of Health and $400 million to the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

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