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What is improvement science?

We describe improvement science as a way of utilising the benefits of science – a way of knowing that produces generalisable knowledge through systematic observation or experimentation – to improve decisions about how healthcare is organised and delivered.

Improvement science draws on knowledge from a wide range of disciplines and sectors, uses methods derived from the social sciences and the ‘hard’ sciences, often in pragmatic ways, and is always based on clear explanations of how improvement will happen (‘theories of change’). It is usually practiced close to where care is delivered and aims to make a timely difference to the quality of that care.  It requires a close partnership between academics, the people who are making decisions about how best to organise and deliver care and those who use health services.

Martin Marshall’s Inaugural Lecture

In short, the science of improvement encourages managers and clinicians to make better use of scientific evidence when they make decisions, and researchers to focus on the usefulness of their work. It therefore occupies the boundary between academia and health services. Martin Marshall (Lead, Improvement Science London) discusses this further in the videos below.

Video produced by Haelo and reproduced with permission on this website (2013).

Video produced by Haelo and reproduced with permission on this website (2013).

Video produced by the Health Foundation and reproduced with permission on this website (2012).