Health Services Research: Evaluating Medical Services

When scientific understanding and policy debate began to merge in North America in the 1960s, health services research (HSR) took off. HSR is a multidisciplinary research discipline that investigates how individuals get access to medical experts and services, how much care costs, and what happens to patients as a consequence of this care. It is also known as health policy and systems research (HPSR) or health systems research. HSR uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore questions about the healthcare system. It covers a wide range of topics, such as the structure, processes, and organization of health care services; their use and access to services; the efficiency and effectiveness of health care services; the quality of healthcare services and its relationship to health status; and the uses of health care systems. It focuses on the performance, quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of health care services as they relate to individual and population health concerns, as well as health care systems.

HSR researchers investigate how social variables, health policies, financial systems, organizational structures and procedures, medical technology, and individual behaviors affect access to healthcare, the cost and quality of healthcare, and the quantity and quality of life. When compared to medical research, HSR is a relatively recent area of study that arose from the combination of social scientific views with the contributions of individuals and organizations engaged in healthcare delivery.


The primary goals of health services research are to decrease medical errors, improve patient safety, and discover the most effective means of planning, managing, funding, and providing high-quality treatment. In contrast to medical research, which focuses on the development and evaluation of treatment remedies, HSR is mainly concerned with the provision of high-quality care.

Some of the fields represented among health services researchers include geography, nursing, economics, political science, epidemiology, public health, medicine, biostatistics, operations, management, engineering, pharmacy, psychology, usability, and user experience design. Despite its theoretical foundations, the major purpose of health services research is to conduct research that can be utilized by physicians, nurses, health managers and administrators, as well as other persons who make decisions or give treatment in the healthcare system. Managerial epidemiology, for example, is a branch of health services research in which managers examine health services using epidemiological methods.[Reference needed]


The distinction between levels of analysis is common in HSR approaches:
Macro (architecture and administration of systems)
(The individual inside the system) Meso (organizational and interventional processes)
Another distinction is whether the research question is exploratory or normative/evaluative.

Collective action

In a hospital setting, “collective leadership” refers to leadership that engages all workers and customers. The idea is that all parties involved in healthcare, including those who are directly impacted, such as patients and caregivers/families, share responsibly for choices taken and the healthcare system’s efficiency. Collective leadership is based on the premise that all stakeholders share viewpoints and skills in order to keep up with rapid technological breakthroughs, patient-centered outcomes, and the rising demand for specialization in healthcare. There is presently no reliable evidence to support claims that this technique increases clinical performance, inpatient mortality, or other outcomes such as staff absenteeism.


Medical conferences and educational seminars are often utilized to aid healthcare employees at a facility in acquiring new skills, maintaining current with constantly changing clinical practice standards, having opportunities for skill progression, and generating opportunities to network with peers. Workshops, audits, educational outreach, feedback sessions, lunch-and-learn lectures, and courses are a few examples. The entry restrictions, number of participants, engagement type (such as passive lectures or hands-on learning activities), frequency of these opportunities, costs, and learning goals all vary greatly. There is little good evidence on the effectiveness of these tactics. Professional development meetings may have minimal influence on professional practice and patient outcomes. Furthermore, there is also limited data to suggest that training seminars may be more helpful than other tactics such as emails, SMS, or penalties in driving change among healthcare staff members.

Low And Middle-Income Countries

Research on the quality of healthcare in low- and middle-income countries, as well as numerous initiatives for improving the efficiency of healthcare delivery in resource-constrained countries, is developing. The primary goal is to enhance healthcare performance. Performance-based payment (P4P) has been investigated. Performance-based payment is a broad technique that encompasses the notion of offering cash benefits if particular objectives are met.

Sources of Information

Vital statistics records (births and deaths), demographic and health surveys, clinical administrative records, health care program and financial administration records, and other specialist studies are all used in health services research.

International Research


The Canadian Institutes of Health Information and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, in particular (i.e., the third pillar: “research respecting health systems and services”), conduct or support health services research. The Canadian Collaborative Study of Hip Fractures and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Toronto are two others.[Reference needed]
Some colleges offer courses in health services research. Atlantic Regional Training Center

Data availability in Denmark

A variety of registries, including the Danish Twin Register and the Danish Cancer Register, are available for research purposes.

France’s Public Health Research Laboratory.

University HeSPeR (Health Services and Performance Research) by Claude Bernard Lyon 1 in Sweden

Data Availability In Sweden

Researchers have access to a significant number of national-level registries. Many of these are managed by the National Board of Health and Welfare, including vast administrative databases on specialist in-patient and out-patient care, local social services, cause-of-death registries, and medicine prescription registers. There are about 100 clinically oriented quality registries targeting diverse patient demographics and sub-domains.


The Karolinska Institute, Lund University, and Uppsala University are just a handful of the Swedish universities that house health care research groups.
The United Kingdom (UK) is made up of the United Kingdom (GB) and Northern Ireland.
HSR is sponsored or funded by a variety of governmental bodies, the missions of which are determined by both national and local governments. Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Health and Care Research Wales, and Health and Social Care Research and Development are among them. The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and its supporting infrastructure, which includes the CLAHRC program, are also included. A simple online search may readily reveal up HSR units at multiple institutions.

Data Availability In US

Claim information for US Medicare and Medicaid members may be analyzed. Public data is information that is available to anybody, while research data is only available to skilled researchers. The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) assigns some data export tasks to a Research Data Assistance Center.
23 Claims data from many states that are not limited to any one insurer are also available for examination via AHRQ’s HCUP project.


In contrast to basic science research “labs,” health services research divisions are sometimes referred to as “shops” in informal contexts. These workshops are often hosted by academic, governmental, or non-governmental think tanks or professional organisations.
Government-sponsored Institute of Medicine Award in Health Services Research, a policy research institute located in the United States
University Sponsored facility for Surgery and Public Health, a research facility at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (affiliate of Harvard University) in the United States
The Regenstrief Institute Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan is located in the United States. (Established in 2011, IHPI is made up of smaller centers that focus on certain healthcare topics.)
Professional Society or Think Tank: The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, a University of Pennsylvania-based HSR center, supported the Society of General Internal Medicine, a professional society for internal medicine research founded in the United States.
HSR facility with headquarters in the United States: Commonwealth Fund Center for HSR, a Rand Corporation branch based in the United States

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