Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


What is Improvement Science?

We describe improvement science as a way of utilising the benefits of science - a way of knowing that produces generalisable knowledge through systematic observation or experimentation - to improve decisions about how healthcare is organised and delivered. 

Improvement science draws on knowledge from a wide range of disciplines and sectors, uses methods derived from the social sciences and the 'hard' sciences, often in pragmatic ways, and is always based on clear explanations of how improvement will happen ('theories of change'). It is usually practiced close to where care is delivered and aims to make a timely difference to the quality of that care.  It requires a close partnership between academics, the people who are making decisions about how best to organise and deliver care and those who use health services.

In short, the science of improvement encourages managers and clinicians to make better use of scientific evidence when they make decisions, and researchers to focus on the usefulness of their work. It therefore occupies the boundary between academia and health services. 

Martin Marshall (Lead, Improvement Science London) discusses this further in the videos below.

Published on 19 Nov 2013


Professor Martin Marshall talks to Haelo about Improvement Science

Published on 25 Nov 2013


Professor Martin Marshall talks to Haelo about Improvement Science

Published on 8 Oct 2012


Martin Marshall talks about the nature of improvement science, challenges of engaging the research community and what the future holds for the discipline.

Martin Marshall gave his UCL Inaugural Lecture as Professor of Healthcare Improvement at The Royal Society of Medicine on Tuesday 19th March 2013. His lecture, Ivory Towers and Swampy Lowlands, explores the characteristics of the science of improvement and calls for experts from academia and experts from the health service to work more effectively across traditional boundaries in order to create new knowledge and more effectively implement what is known about improving the organisation and delivery of health services.

Watch Martin's lecture below: