As the culmination of their learning experience, students collaborate in teams on an Action-Learning Project. Applying classroom concepts to real organizational challenges provides an immediate return on the learning experience—and delivers a payoff to improve business and clinical performance for the client organization.

Action learning also unleashes a team's creative thinking and encourages the development of a common internal language around quality, strategy, efficiency, and leadership.

These hands-on projects provide participants with the opportunity to:

  • integrate their core academic knowledge and apply it to a real-world problem
  • gain practical experience in planning and executing a project
  • tailor the curriculum to their individual goals and those of their organizations

Participants work in teams to design and complete a project. Projects have an external client, often a sponsoring organization, who provides motivation for the project and access to data and people in the client organization. When feasible, the teams will include participants from the same organization, in order to translate their knowledge quickly into their workplace setting. The groundwork for a stronger, more team-focused organization is one of the most valuable program outcomes.

Each team also works with a faculty advisor who approves the project and coaches the team on its planning and execution. Learning to manage a project effectively is an additional major focus of this course. Participants will learn how to scope a project, develop a work plan, conduct primary and secondary research, implement the project, measure its results, and create and deliver an effective presentation.

During the final residential period, teams will present their findings to faculty, peers, and management from the sponsoring institutions.

Sample Action-Learning Projects

Reducing Errors and Readmissions through Strategic Care Coordination

An increasingly complex and fragmented health care system has made transitions of patients from inpatient to outpatient settings an event that varies widely in quality and is too often characterized by medication errors, poor patient adherence to treatment, and unnecessary health care costs. Patients with complex, chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure, who often rely on care from multiple physicians are particularly susceptible to the effects of poorly coordinated transitions. Deliberate planning and management of care transitions for heart‐failure patients has the potential to improve patient outcomes and simultaneously reduce costs. (Download PDF)

Instituting an Employer-Based Health Protection and Promotion Program

As employers struggle to maintain quality and affordable health insurance for a diverse workforce, some have taken ownership of this issue through comprehensive efforts to safeguard employee and dependent health. Integrated health protection and promotion programs (also known as “wellness” programs) from a range of employers have demonstrated the ability to reduce the rate of cost increases for health care coverage, improve constituents’ health, and improve employees’ performance. (Download PDF)

Building an Accountable Care Organization

The ACO model, which began as a theoretical construct in discussions between The Dartmouth Institute (TDI) and the Brookings Institution, now has five pilot sites across the U.S. and legislative and financial support in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. As of January 1, 2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been authorized to experiment with payment reform, focusing on institutions that  are willing to be accountable for the quality of care and cost of services for the Medicare beneficiaries assigned, have a defined process to promote evidence-based medicine, can report on quality and cost metrics, and have in place a formal legal structure to distribute savings. Of course, the presupposition in this model is that health care institutions have the capability to deliver high quality at lower cost so there are savings to be shared. (Download PDF)