Developed through a collaboration between HarvardX and the Institute for Healthcare ImprovementPH 556x: Practical Improvement Science in Health Care: A roadmap for getting results will provide learners with the valuable skills and simple, well-tested tools they need to translate promising innovations or evidence into practice. A group of expert faculty will explore a scientific approach to improvement — a practical, rigorous methodology that includes a theory of change, measurable aims, and iterative, incremental small tests of change to determine if improvement concepts can be implemented effectively in practice. Faculty will present this science through the lens of improving health and health care, but will also share examples of how improvement can (and does) influence our daily lives.

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Each week, learners will dive into engaging, interactive materials and relevant resources to start building an improvement toolkit that will serve them long after the seven-week course ends. Learners will immediately put their new skills to the test as they work each week on a personal improvement project that will show them the power of the science that has improved healthcare — and other industries — around the world for decades.

The only prerequisite for the course is curiosity, but the reward is a lifetime of improvement.

In support of improving patient care, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing education for the healthcare team. This activity has also been approved by the National Association for Healthcare Quality for CPHQ CE credit. If you are interested in earning CEUs for this course, please visit to see the options and steps required prior to enrolling or taking any action on edX.

Meet The Faculty

Don Goldmann

Don Goldmann

Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School; Chief Medical and Scientific Officer for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Don Goldmann, MD is Chief Medical and Scientific Officer for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. At IHI Dr. Goldmann supports content leads in identifying innovative approaches and cutting-edge developments, assists expert faculty in areas of strategic focus, as well as strengthens ties between the organization and the health services research and academic communities. He also serves as senior lead for the IHI Fellowship Program and continues to train and mentor emerging investigators at Boston Children’s Hospital.

A noted scholar and professor at Harvard, Dr. Goldmann brings a unique perspective, having performed studies across the entire continuum of translational research: bench science (vaccine development), infectious disease epidemiology (novel methods for early detection of outbreaks, risk adjustment, and effectiveness research), clinical trials (including cluster randomized trials of QI interventions), and implementation research (including quasi-experimental methods and real-time context-sensitive mixed methods evaluation). He has more than 230 peer-reviewed publications, many in high-impact journals, and numerous commentaries.

Dr. Goldmann is the founder and current co-director of the Harvard-wise Pediatric Health Services Research Training Program, funded by AHRQ and NICHD. He is also on the Board of both AcademyHealth and America’s Essential Hospitals Institute. In addition to the HarvardX MOOC, he is currently teaching a general education course on the Science of Living Systems, General Education SLS26. 

Dave Williams

Dave Williams

Executive Director, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)

David M. Williams, PhD, is Executive Director for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and co-lead of the Improvement Capability Focus Area. He has served as the Improvement Advisor for large collaboratives in the United States and Europe, including Impacting Cost & Quality in the U.S., the NHS South West Patient Quality and Safety Programme in England, and the Scottish Government Early Years Collaborative. Dr. Williams is faculty for the IHI Open School and IHI’s Improvement Advisor Professional Development Program. He coaches teams and has taught improvement science programs in the U.S. and abroad. He created the Mr. Potato Head exercise, used worldwide to teach PDSA testing and measurement.

A paramedic by background, Dr. Williams practiced in urban EMS systems for many years and is internationally known as an expert on paramedic care and emergency medical services systems. He serves as Improvement Advisor to the prehospital patient safety and care improvement work at Hamad Medical Corporation’s Ambulance Service in Qatar. Dr. Williams is a 2013 alumni of the Leadership Austin Essentials program and serves as Vice Chairman of the Board for CommUnityCare in Austin, TX, one of the largest Federally Qualified Health Center systems in the United States. Prior to joining IHI, he led a consulting practice focused on improvement science and expert consulting in education, public safety, and health care.

Don Berwick

Don Berwick

President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)

Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP, FRCP is President Emeritus and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. A pediatrician by background, Dr. Berwick has served on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, and on the staffs of Boston's Children's Hospital Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Brigham and Women's Hospital. He has also served as Vice Chair of the US Preventive Services Task Force, the first "Independent Member" of the American Hospital Association Board of Trustees, and Chair of the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. He served two terms on the Institute of Medicine's (IOM's) Governing Council, was a member of the IOM's Global Health Board, and served on President Clinton's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry.

Recognized as a leading authority on health care quality and improvement, Dr. Berwick has received numerous awards for his contributions. In 2005, he was appointed "Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire" by the Queen of England in recognition of his work with the British National Health Service. Dr. Berwick is the author or co-author of over 160 scientific articles and five books. He also serves as Lecturer in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.

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