What Is a System in Health Care

Building on Deming's systems thinking, health care is viewed as a system in Figure 11.1. A system is defined as a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish a specific aim (Deming, 1986). A system possesses flow,

FIGURE 11.1. HEALTH CARE VIEWED FROM A SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVE.

FIGURE 11.1. HEALTH CARE VIEWED FROM A SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVE.

Source: Adapted from Deming, 1986, by P. B. Batalden.

FIGURE 11.2. HEALTH CARE IS AN OPEN SYSTEM, CAPABLE OF CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT.

What System

constraints, sequence, and context. A system has an aim; absent an aim there is no system. In general, health care systems exist to meet the needs of patients, families, and communities. Further, health care can be viewed as an open system, one capable of continual improvement, as shown in Figure 11.2.

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