Improving Health Care Quality Through Collaboration


HSSC’s collaborative approach has yielded several insights that may be of value to other states wishing to explore statewide biomedical research networks.

  • Collaboration takes time. HSSC has benefited from a well-planned, multi-year approach that included four phases: Discover, Develop, Deliver, Disseminate. The Discover phase gave participants time to get to know one another and determine how collaboration might work. “Develop” focused on building shared data systems and networks. “Deliver” — where HSSC is currently — consists of launching and demonstrating the collaboratively built systems’ abilities to help improve health status.
  • Trust among collaborators is vital for success. For the research institutions to collaborate fully, they first needed to develop trust in one another and in the collaborative process. Each participant must realize that collaboration isn’t “taking their data,” but rather sharing broader data. Trust is also paramount for learning to work together and to adopt new shared practices.
  • Communities must support collaboration. Health care is a public issue, so engaging the public in discussions about HSSC went a long way to securing public support. HSSC leaders invited local communities to participate in the concept phase, and HSSC continues to engage elements of the public.
  • Collaboration changes practice. Not only do individual collaborators change the way they work to accommodate their new network, but the entire collaborative is likely to develop new theories and practices that change the norms for all.
  • Value may require clarification. HSSC faced early hurdles because not all of its hospital members completely understood the value of the collaborative. To rectify this situation, HSSC developed and actively shared a clearly defined value proposition, created with all members, which became a cornerstone for its multi-year strategic plan.

Impact: Improving Care

With a broader network for conducting research and disseminating findings, HSSC has helped improve care in many ways for countless patients.

In addition, HSSC has leveraged millions in federal funding and from collaborating hospitals for the SmartState Center. 

More than 1,000 doctors in rural communities have used HSSC’s services to begin implementing electronic health records, and the program was funded by a $6.8 million federal stimulus grant.

The Clinical Data Warehouse (CDW) went live in September 2013 with de-identified patient records from MUSC, Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System. Live feeds from each of those systems will continue to keep the CDW up-to-date and growing. The data is available only to members of the collaborative, and only with appropriate permissions and clearances.

Clinical health outcomes from HSSC’s first eight years cover a large spectrum, from reducing “central line” infections, to reducing or preventing avoidable readmissions after hospital stays for heart failure or cardiac arrest.

The 12 Centers of Economic Excellence supported by HSSC have attracted more than $107 million in additional funding and created more than 600 jobs.


Area of Work

  • Quality and safety of health care

Program Area

  • Health Care

Grantmaking Status

Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

    Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

    Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities