Health services research is “a multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that studies how social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviors affect access to healthcare, the quality and cost of health care, and ultimately our health and well-being.”1 During the last 50 years, health service researchers have developed tools and techniques that have profoundly affected the way medicine is practiced. The field developed measures of health and quality and ways to incorporate risk adjustment as a function of the characteristics that patients bring to a clinical encounter. These techniques have made it possible to increase measures of health as outcomes in clinical trials and to pay physicians based on their performance. Health services research has built an empirical foundation for empowering patients by providing information that compares quality of care or health outcomes across hospitals or physicians.
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