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Health care organizations as complex systems: new perspectives on design and management.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

We discuss the impact of complexity science on the design and management of health care organizations over the past decade. We provide an overview of complexity science issues and their impact on thinking about health care systems, particularly with the rising importance of information systems. We also present a complexity science perspective on current issues in today's health care organizations and suggest ways that this perspective might help in approaching these issues.

APPROACH:

We review selected research, focusing on work in which we participated, to identify specific examples of applications of complexity science. We then take a look at information systems in health care organizations from a complexity viewpoint.

FINDINGS:

Complexity science is a fundamentally different way of understanding nature and has influenced the thinking of scholars and practitioners as they have attempted to understand health care organizations. Many scholars study health care organizations as complex adaptive systems and through this perspective develop new management strategies. Most important, perhaps, is the understanding that attention to relationships and interdependencies is critical for developing effective management strategies.

RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

Increased understanding of complexity science can enhance the ability of researchers and practitioners to develop new ways of understanding and improving health care organizations.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE:

This analysis opens new vistas for scholars and practitioners attempting to understand health care organizations as complex adaptive systems. The analysis holds value for those already familiar with this approach as well as those who may not be as familiar.

PMID:
24749211
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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