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June 1, 2011

The Physics of Health Care Improvement

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: UMass Memorial Health Care and University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 2011;305(21):2223-2224. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.735

Healthcare professionals with a mandate to improve care delivery may recognize strong similarities between the challenges of a successful project and Newton's laws of motion that form the basis for classical mechanics.1 To the extent that improvement teams in health care (of various sizes and mass) can be viewed as bodies orbiting a hospital system (with varying degrees of attraction), a number of similarities can be noted. However, physics is the study of motion, whereas improvement science is, in many respects, the study of execution, or purposeful and goal-directed motion.2