Systems Thinking in a Hospital Setting

Assignment Content

Reflect on the following questions in a minimum of 500 words:

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Consider how the three competencies of this course might directly apply to your life and work environment when answering the questions below.

Competency 1: Adopt a systems thinking mindset in personal and professional contexts.

Competency 2: Employ health sector best practices in sourcing experience at the point of service.

Competency 3: Generate strategies for identifying meaningful projects that support an organization’s existing strategic initiatives.

Question 1:

Think of a situation in which creating a diagram that maps a healthcare organization’s inflows, outflows, and feedback loops would be valuable. How could you use SWOT analysis within your own organization to find areas to improve or reorganize? Provide an example, either within your work environment or in society at large, of when using systems thinking had an impact on a group’s ability to identify process improvements or draw conclusions on large problems within society. USE A HOSPITAL SETTING

Question 2:

What specific assignments or learning activities from this course did you find particularly beneficial? What do you feel could have improved or added to your learning experience in this course?


Sample Answer


Systems Thinking in a Hospital Setting

Answer to Question 1

There are many potential benefits to using systems thinking approach within healthcare organizations. For example, mapping the organization’s inflows, outflows, and feedback loops could help to identify potential bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the system. For instance, if a hospital were trying to improve its patient flow, mapping the inflows and outflows of patients would be a helpful first step. This type of diagram could help the hospital identify bottlenecks in the system and brainstorm ways to improve patient flow. Additionally, SWOT analysis could help identify areas where the organization could improve or reorganize to better meet its patients’ needs.

One potential benefit of using the systems thinking approach is that it can help to identify potential bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the system. For example, suppose a healthcare organization’s inflows, outflows, and feedback loops are mapped (Cramp & Carson, 2019). In that case, it may be possible to identify points at which the system is not functioning as efficiently as it could be. This information can then be used to improve the system, which could ultimately lead to better patient care.

SWOT analysis could also be used within a healthcare organization to find areas to improve or reorganize. For example, suppose a healthcare organization’s SWOT analysis identifies that the organization lacks sufficient staffing levels. In that case, this information can be used to change the organization’s staffing levels or organizational structure. This analysis could help the hospital identify areas where it could make changes to improve patient satisfaction. In turn, it could lead to improved patient care.

Systems thinking can also be used to identify process improvements or draw conclusions on significant problems within society. For example, systems thinking was used to develop the lean manufacturing process, which has significantly impacted manufacturing industries worldwide (Cramp & Carson, 2019). In healthcare, systems thinking has been used to develop quality improvement initiatives such as Six Sigma. These types of initiatives have had a significant impact on the quality of healthcare services.

Another example would be the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the US healthcare system. The ACA was a large and complex piece of legislation that significantly impacted the healthcare system (Cramp & Carson, 2019). Using systems thinking, policy analysts could identify several potential problems with the ACA and make recommendations for how to improve it.

Answer to Question 2

I found the systems thinking exercises to be particularly beneficial in this course. They helped me understand how to approach problems from a different perspective and see the interconnectedness of different elements in a system. I have learned that a healthcare organization’s inflows, outflows, and feedback loops are essential to its operation. By mapping these out, it can be easier to see where improvements can be made or where the organization might be able to reorganize itself to be more efficient.

I also found the readings on best practices in health care to be helpful in thinking about improving the delivery of care in my work environment. I found it beneficial to generate strategies for identifying meaningful projects that support an organization’s existing strategic initiatives. I feel that this will help me in my future career when trying to identify projects that will help my organization achieve its goals. I think that the course could have improved by providing more examples of projects that support an organization’s strategic initiatives.


Cramp, D. G., & Carson, E. R. (2019). Systems thinking, complexity and managerial decision-making: an analytical review. Health Services Management Research, 22(2), 71-80.

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