The health care landscape is characterized by: expanding scientific knowledge about the biological correlates of human health and identity; extraordinary flows of information; increased attention to aging, chronic illness and disability; mutable coalitions of paid and unpaid providers; the centrality of care recipients and “expert patients” in health care decision making; “high” and “low” technologies in new configurations of physical settings and cyberspaces; growing emphasis on integrated and outcomes-focused service delivery; and concern for technology innovation in the context of economic opportunity, globalization and fiscal restraint.
HCTP is defined by a rich interdisciplinary orientation to this landscape, with research training focused on the nexus of people (the identities and relationships forged in and through health care), technologies (the material and social interventions realized through products and processes), places (the structure and meaning of settings in which care is organized and dispersed), and work (the configuration of social actors and occupational practices in self- and health- care).
Interdisciplinarity involves formulating questions, solving problems, and addressing topics that are too broad or complex to be adequately addressed by a single discipline or profession. A fusion of disciplinary perspectives is required to address the consequences and implications of technology-mediated and geographically-dispersed health care.
Applied health services research and critical social science and humanities scholarship have contributed to existing knowledge regarding human health, health technology, health work, and health systems. However, these literatures have been poorly integrated; the experiences with and impact of health technologies has not been a central focus; and most applied health research is dependent upon theories and methods that are poorly understood outside their originating contexts.
Recently, disciplines that have operated at some remove from health policy concerns (e.g. philosophy, sociology, literature, history, geography) have given sustained attention to human health, health care settings, and health technologies. This new knowledge must be placed in conversation with applied health services research that is similarly concerned with developments in scientific and clinical knowledge to best assess the role and impact of health technologies in the new health care order. To Top
HCTP primarily focused on the diffusion of health services across diverse settings and this privileged the setting (or places) where health care is received. HCTP has evolved and now looks at technology, as increasingly care participants and caring technologies do not need to be proximal in space or time.
Current practice in health technology assessment focuses expertly, but narrowly, on clinical and economic effectiveness, with limited attention to the context-specific social, ethical and organizational factors that substantively affect outcomes. Moreover, only a narrow slice of the technology life cycle is considered, ignoring innovation, practice-based re-design and obsolescence. Finally, the socio-political dynamics of technology appraisal, including priority setting and stakeholder engagement, are understudied. To Top
In the past six years, HCTP Faculty Mentors and Fellows addressed substantive and conceptual health services problems in small, collaborative, "Multiple Academic Perspectives" (MAP) teams.
The MAP teams generated shared frames of reference for addressing complex health services research problems, identified complementarities linking different scientific paradigms; explored opportunities for cross-fertilization and the extension of models and methods across disciplines; and developed sensitivity to embedded values in different scientific perspectives.