Fixing Healthcare Delivery

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Course Date: 01 September 2014 to 27 October 2014 (8 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

Isn’t it time to end the loss of life from preventable medical errors? Each year 100,000 patients die from preventable errors in the U.S. How can you help to change this intractable problem? Knowledge is power, and this course will provide you with a deep understanding of the problems and the solutions. You can become part of the solution.

Estimated Workload: 2-4 hours/week

Course Instructors

Frederick Southwick

Dr. Frederick Southwick is a Professor of Medicine and former Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Florida. From 2010-2011 Dr. Southwick attended the Harvard Business School as an Advanced Leadership Fellow, and studied how business practices could be applied to improve the quality and safety of healthcare. He is an award winning teacher and the author of the recently published book "Critically Ill: A 5-point Plan to Cure Healthcare Delivery". He and his family have suffered the profound consequences of preventable medical errors, and he brings the passion of his personal experiences, as well as over 30 years of clinical practice to his analysis of the challenges we all face when we work in or receive care in our hospitals and clinics. 

Course Description

Presented by the University of Florida with content contributions from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). 

UF           IHI

As noted over a decade ago, nearly 100,000 patients die annually as a consequence of preventable medical errors each year, and over 1 million patients suffer life-changing injuries. Despite the calls to action medical errors continue at the rate of 1 out of 10 patients. How can those of us who help to deliver care and those of us that receive care help to prevent harm? There are 5 fundamental areas each of us needs to understand and work to improve. 

  1. High performing manufacturers and athletic teams have developed highly sophisticated protocols, customer-supplier relationships, and feedback mechanism that allow them to continually improve, and we can apply these approaches to healthcare. 
  2. The delivery of patient care is no longer an individual sport. The complexity of care and the large number of caregivers requires teamwork. We all need to learn how lead and be part of multidisciplinary teams that include the patient and focus patient needs. 
  3. The human brain continually makes errors. Certain conditions increase the likelihood of errors, and these need to be avoided. Systems can be designed that force the right behavior, and second checks can help caregivers provide the right care at the right time and in the right place. 
  4. Leadership should not only be practiced in the boardrooms and administrative offices; we all need to become effective leaders. Most importantly we must practice adaptive leadership, that is, leadership that promotes a true change in the way things are done. 
  5. Finally we all can utilize the campaign methods of successful politicians and advocacy groups to change the attitudes of our fellow caregivers and patients, and thereby change the culture of our healthcare systems. 

During this 8-week course you will be provided with the tools to accomplish all 5 of these goals, and as an individual you can truly make a difference.

This course is adapted from Dr. Southwick's recently published book "Critically Ill: A 5-point Plan to Cure Healthcare Delivery".


  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, and the time to read, write, discuss. I also hope you will come with a passion to improve healthcare delivery and save lives.

  • What is the most important lesson I will come away with if I take this class?

    You will deeply understand the complexity of healthcare delivery and the high stakes of accepting the "way it is". Armed with this new knowledge you will be able to create solutions at the ground level that will improve the lives of patients and healthcare providers.


Week 1 - Who was caring for Mary? An introduction to the problem, and case studies

Week 2 – What industry and athletics can teach us about improving health care delivery

Week 3 - Health care requires teamwork

Week 4 – Understanding and preventing human error Part I

Week 5 – Understanding and preventing human error Part II

Week 6 – We all can lead. By becoming adaptive leaders we can lead the changes in healthcare that are so badly needed.

Week 7 – How organizing people can drive needed cultural changes in our health systems

Week 8 – We all can overcome our natural resistant to change, and as patients, physicians, nurses, and students we can apply the lessons of weeks 1-7 to make a difference. Each of us can do our part to fix healthcare delivery.


Each class will consist of 3-4 instructional videos (6-12 minutes in length) followed by interactive questions, short essays, and group internet discussions.

Suggested Reading

No specific textbook is required, because the content is self explanatory. The course is based on the book: Critically Ill: A 5-point plan to cure healthcare delivery by Frederick S. Southwick. This book can provide a helpful background, and once you have completed the course as your field manual for change.  There are guiding questions and key point summaries as well as exercises at the end of each chapter to encourage active learning.

Course Workload

2-4 hours/week

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