Glossary

Adverse events
Undesirable experiences associated with medical care, such as a surgical site infection or other postoperative complications, serious morbidity, or death. The goal is to minimize or eliminate such events.
Behavioral risk factors for disease
Individual behaviors such as smoking, lack of exercise, poor dietary choices and overconsumption of alcohol that have a negative impact on health and lead to chronic disease.
Big data
Big data is a term with uncertain roots, and variable usage, but one that paints a picture of extremely large amounts of information, complex and disparate, that is difficult to analyze using traditional tools. Big data is being used more and more frequently by health science researchers to delve into many of the questions in health care today.
Chronic medical and psychiatric disease
Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, that persist over time and require consistent efforts to keep the disease from progressing or causing significant declines in quality of life. Psychiatric diseases, often referred to as mental illnesses, affect mood, thinking processes, the ability to relate to others or daily functioning.
Clinical engagement
Involving clinicians in collaborative research efforts to understand clinically relevant information and utilize their expertise to guide research studies in ways that have practice-changing implications. This involvement includes developing the research question, defining the cohort using clinically relevant information, and identifying who or what is the best channel to inform practice at large of the applicable findings.
Clinical pathways in surgery
The different tasks involved in surgical care, which are defined, optimized and sequenced to create a standardized pathway. By standardizing surgical care, it improves quality across the board and shortens hospital stays.
Cluster randomized trial
A type of randomized controlled trial in which randomization occurs at the group level rather than the individual level.
Comparative effectiveness research
Research designed to inform health care decisions by providing evidence on which treatment options work best for patients and by comparing the treatments' associated benefits and harms.
Complex surgical patient
A patient either undergoing a complex surgical procedure or a patient with multiple comorbidities undergoing a common procedure.
Data mining
The computational process of discovering "hidden" and previously unknown information, patterns and knowledge in large data sets.
Decision aids
Tools to share information and create conversations between patients and health care professionals about the options available and their relative merits and downsides.
Delivery system reform
Redefining delivery of health care to identify inefficiencies, by means to reduce cost and improve the quality of care. The American Medical Association defines five priority areas for delivery system reform, including payment reform, improved primary and preventive care, quality measurement and reporting, simplification of administrative task and costs, and improved health information technology.
Disease burden
The impact of a disease or health condition in terms of mortality, morbidity, quality of life and financial cost.
Economic evaluation
A group of analytic methods to quantify and compare the benefits (for example, prevented disability, improved quality of life and so on) and the costs of medical interventions. These studies include analyses paired with prospective clinical trials, retrospective analyses of prior clinical studies, retrospective and prospective observational studies, assessments using internal and publicly available data sources, analyses of resource use, and models based solely on information from the literature.
Evidence-Based Practice Center
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) designates 13 groups as Evidence-Based Practice Centers. These designated centers, which undertake projects assigned by AHRQ, produce evidence summaries to improve the quality of health care and make it safer, more accessible, equitable and affordable.
Health disparities
Differences between populations — often defined by socio-demographic factors such as race and ethnicity, age, sex, or social class — in health outcomes or access to factors that promote health.
Health outcomes
Changes in health status for individuals, groups or populations.
Human factors and ergonomics
A multidisciplinary field involving psychology, engineering, biomechanics, industrial design and other areas in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance, and used to fulfill the goals of productivity and occupational health and safety.
Health sciences research (also known as health services research)
Health sciences research is the multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that studies how social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviors affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care, and ultimately health and well-being. Its research domains are individuals, families, organizations, institutions, communities and populations. (Lohr KN, et al. Health services research: An evolving definition of the field. Health Services Research. 2002;37:15-17.)
Knowledge synthesis
Activities that lead to summary and appraisal of existing evidence in a format ready for application and most useful to end users, including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, evidence profiles and clinical practice guidelines.
Mayo Clinic Health System
A group of clinics, hospitals and health care facilities providing primary and specialty care for people in more than 70 communities across Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Georgia.
Mayo Practice Transformation Network
A collaborative network of more than 75 community-based practices funded as part of the Department of Health and Human Services Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative. The network supports more than 1,200 clinicians as they expand their quality improvement capacity, learn from one another, and achieve common goals of improved care, better health and reduced cost. It provides technical assistance related to integrated behavioral health, readmissions, chronic disease management, medication therapy management, shared decision-making and management of patients with complex medical issues, including multiple chronic conditions.
Mayo value proposition
Mayo Clinic measures the value of care provided to patients in terms of both quality (patient outcomes, patient satisfaction and patient safety) and cost over time. The goal is to strive for the highest quality care while reducing costs.
Meta-analysis
The statistical combination of two or more separate studies.
Observational studies
Studies in which the individuals (or other units) are allocated to different interventions using methods that are not random.
Operations research
A scientific approach that is part of systems engineering using mathematical tools such as optimization, simulation and queuing theory to solve complex problems.
OptumLabs
OptumLabs is a research alliance co-founded in 2012 by Optum Inc., and Mayo Clinic that combines vast amounts of clinical data, claims data and other consumer data in a shared data resource. In addition, it provides a research environment, including technology, tools, collaboration space and operating processes, and a translation network (to assist in moving knowledge to practice and policy change). As of fall 2015, the collaboration had expanded to include 21 partners.
Outcomes research
Outcomes research studies the end results of medical care — the effect of the health care process on the health and well-being of patients and populations.
Patient-Centered Network of Learning Health Systems (LHSNet)
A patient-centered network of nine learning health systems established in 2015 with funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. This clinical data research network serves approximately 10 million patients across 10 states and is building an infrastructure to facilitate patient-centered outcomes research; support large pragmatic clinical trials as well as observational and interventional comparative effectiveness research studies embedded within the health care systems; and enable the dissemination, implementation, and evaluation of clinical and community efforts to improve population health.
Patient-reported outcomes (PROs)
A PRO is any report of the status of a patient's health condition (for example, symptoms or functional status), health behavior, or experience with health care or the health care system that comes directly from the patient without interpretation by a clinician or anyone else.
Point-of-care system
Tools (often electronic) used by a patient care provider during an encounter with a patient to document the visit, enter notes, order tests, schedule visits and so on for that patient.
Predictive analytics
A research method that finds relationships in data that can be used to predict future probabilities and trends.
Practice analytics
Multidisciplinary analyses and summarization of Mayo Clinic practices, with the ultimate goal of improving practice performance. Multiple approaches, tools and interfaces are used to aid key institutional leaders with strategic planning, including data to inform policy, payment reform, and payer negotiations.
Prospective cohort studies
Studies that, over time, track groups of similar individuals or cohorts who differ with regard to certain factors of interest to assess the extent to which certain outcomes differ by, and because of, such factors.
Qualitative research
A broader term referring to a set of research methodologies that aims to understand the viewpoint and values of participants through anthropological, field, ethnographic, naturalistic or participant observer research.
Quantitative research
A formal, objective, systematic process in which numerical data are used to obtain information about the world. It describes variables, examines relationships among variables and seeks to determine cause-and-effect interactions between variables.
Randomized controlled trial
Study in which the individuals (or other units) followed were definitely or possibly assigned prospectively to one of two (or more) alternative forms of health care using random allocation (by chance alone).
Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP)
A research infrastructure system that links together nearly all of the medical records of the residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, for approved medical research. This infrastructure makes it possible to conduct population-based descriptive, case-control, historical and prospective cohort, and cross-sectional research studies of most diseases and medical conditions.
Retrospective analyses
Analysis of existing data to explore factors that led to a particular outcome.
Science of health care delivery
A multidisciplinary approach to address the problems in health care by focusing on the way patients actually receive care. From using engineering principles to determine the most efficient way to schedule patient appointments to research focusing on the most successful, cost-effective means for delivering treatment, this discipline's aim is to enhance the patient's experience with health care by improving quality, outcomes and cost.
Shared decision-making
Clinicians and patients use the best available evidence when faced with the task of making decisions. Patients are supported to deliberate about the possible attributes and consequences of options and arrive at informed preferences in determining the best action. This approach respects patient autonomy and is ethical and legal.
Social determinants of disease
Social determinants of disease include factors in the physical (such as places to exercise and access to health care) and social (such as social support and meaningful connections) environment that influence health outcomes.
Socio-technical
How a human interacts with a technology (for example, with a computer).
Stepped wedge cluster randomized trial
A type of randomized controlled trial in which randomization occurs at the group level rather than the individual level and the intervention is sequentially rolled out to groups over time.
Surgical outcomes
The study of the quality of surgical care and experience of patients after their surgery is completed, such as the complications they might experience (such as infection), whether they are discharged to their home or another facility, and survival rates following the procedure.
Surgical and clinical access
Access, in the context of health systems engineering, refers to the ability of a patient to obtain an appointment with a provider.
Systematic review
A study design in which all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria is collated in order to answer a specific research question.
Systems engineering
An engineering approach to solve problems involving the entirety of a complex system (from the beginning to the end of a care process).
Translational research
An integral part of biomedical research that translates laboratory findings to clinical practice and vice versa — from clinical observations back to the laboratory for further testing, providing better services to patients and providers based on clinical and biological data. Also called "bench to bedside and back."