Centers of Excellence and Coordinating Center


Centers of Excellence

Dartmouth College Center of Excellence

The Dartmouth College Center of Excellence is studying the use of evidence-based innovations in health systems and their impact on healthcare quality, delivery, and costs. They are exploring how market and organizational factors influence the implementation of biomedical, care delivery, and patient engagement innovations. In addition, the Dartmouth Center of Excellence has conducted the National Survey of Healthcare Organizations and Systems, which included responses from more than 3,300 healthcare leaders in practices, hospitals, and health systems. The survey asks leaders about the external environment, organizational characteristics, operational factors, and characteristics of healthcare innovations. Read more about the Dartmouth College Center of Excellence.

NBER Center of Excellence

The NBER Center of Excellence and its team of collaborators are working to identify relationships among the organization of healthcare providers, delivery of evidence-based care, clinical and economic outcomes, and patient experiences. To this end, the Center has mapped health systems across the entire United States over many years. They have developed some new performance measures and have calculated new and existing performance measures to study variation in performance across organizational types, health systems, and geographic areas. Finally, they are combining data on healthcare organization and performance to study topics such as the consequences of corporate consolidation and the diffusion of best practices. Read more about the NBER Center of Excellence.

RAND Center of Excellence

The RAND Center of Excellence is working to identify, classify, track, and compare health systems in today's healthcare markets and to characterize the attributes of high-performing health systems—those systems that can more nimbly translate new research evidence into routine clinical practice, thereby improving quality, reducing costs, and achieving better patient outcomes. Read more about the RAND Center of Excellence.

Coordinating Center


AHRQ’s Coordinating Center for Comparative Health System Performance, led by Mathematica Policy Research, leverages expertise, infrastructure, and resources across the initiative’s three Centers of Excellence to Study High-Performing Health Care Systems. The Coordinating Center will share research from the Centers of Excellence on the characteristics of high-performing health systems, to help accelerate the adoption of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) to improve care and efficiency within health systems across the Nation.

To achieve these goals, the Coordinating Center is conducting various activities, including:

  • Facilitating collaboration among the Centers of Excellence.
  • Gathering input from stakeholders and technical experts.
  • Synthesizing findings.
  • Conducting data analyses.
  • Developing a compendium of health systems characteristics and performance indicators.
  • Broadly disseminating the initiative’s findings and lessons learned.

Coordinating Center Activities

Coordinate and Facilitate Collaboration

The Coordinating Center facilitates coordination and communication among the Centers of Excellence and promotes collaboration. This coordination and collaboration will help align the concepts, data, methods, and measures needed to compare health system performance and will ensure that evidence the Centers of Excellence collect is comprehensively examined to contribute to a synthesis of the initiative’s findings. Activities in this area will include regular workgroup meetings with researchers from the Centers of Excellence to discuss key topics and annual workshops with a session open to the public.

Convene Experts and Stakeholders

The Coordinating Center is convening a technical expert panel consisting primarily of health system leaders. These experts will meet regularly to advise AHRQ and the Centers of Excellence about data and performance measures, types of evidence that will be most useful to stakeholders, research gaps, dissemination products, and effective strategies for reaching stakeholders.

Synthesize and Disseminate Research on Health System Performance

To speed the adoption of practices that can improve the performance of health systems, the Coordinating Center will synthesize and broadly disseminate research and evidence produced by the Centers of Excellence. These syntheses will take the form of journal articles, issue briefs, fact sheets, maps, and data visualizations. They will help clarify the types of systems, processes, incentives, and environments or markets that speed the diffusion of PCOR findings into practice to produce the best patient-centered outcomes.

Dissemination efforts will leverage a network of partners that support the initiative to effectively target health system decisionmakers, policymakers, researchers, and other key stakeholders. The initiative is a 5-year effort and results will be published as they become available, culminating in the release of final findings in fall 2020.

Produce a Compendium on U.S. Health Care Systems

The Coordinating Center is creating a compendium that will enable users to access health system data and information about practices for achieving evidence-based and patient-centered care. The compendium will be a valuable resource for those interested in (1) understanding the characteristics of health systems, (2) comparing and contrasting the performance of different health systems, and (3) examining the performance improvement approaches of various health systems.

The compendium will include a data library that links descriptive statistics collected by the Centers of Excellence and the Coordinating Center. These data resources will provide tools that allow users to identify characteristics of diverse established health systems; make comparisons across systems and communities; and graphically depict key health system characteristics and other environmental factors that may contribute to higher quality care.

The compendium will also provide data analyses, research syntheses, best practices, and lessons learned from the project. Thus, it will provide potential users both high-level "snapshots" as well as "deep dives" into the evolution of health systems in the United States to assist various stakeholders to promote higher value care.

For more information, visit the Coordinating Center for Comparative Health System Performance.

The three Centers of Excellence to Study High-Performing Health Care Systems are examining different aspects of the U.S. health system in order to understand factors that affect the use of evidence-based medicine.


Page last reviewed July 2019
Page originally created September 2016
Internet Citation: Centers of Excellence and Coordinating Center. Content last reviewed July 2019. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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