Mark V. Williams, MD, FACP, MHM

This was a remarkable year for the Center for Health Services Research (CHSR). Initiated by the vision of Dr. Mike Karpf, Executive VP for Health Affairs at UK, our team grew from two people in January 2014 to more than 15 today. In this Annual Report we describe our team and many collaborators along with some of our activities and accomplishments. I could not be more proud of what we have achieved in such a short time, but recognize much more needs to be done as we apply research to optimize care

A primary motivation for me has been the care my father received for kidney cancer 35 years ago. His neurosurgeon spoke at length with me about my father’s spinal metastases, the associated paralysis, and the struggles the surgeon faced attempting to excise the tumor. Without question, I was overwhelmed by the situation . . . . yet, this busy physician carefully and tenderly answered all my questions, and asked about me. Learning of my goal to go to medical school, he subsequently invited me along on his rounds and helped me in my medical school application process. As I progressed in my training, I came to appreciate how much he cared for all his patients. About 15 years later, as I immersed myself in learning quality improvement, I came across the famous quote by Avedis Donabedian, renowned as the founder of the study of quality in health care and medical outcomes research. “Ultimately, the secret of quality is love.” I realized that love motivated that neurosurgeon and the many nurses and physicians who taught me during my training. 

During this time, I also came to realize that poorly designed systems can thwart efforts to deliver the high quality health care that our patients deserve. The engineer and statistician W. Edwards Deming stated “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” My goal became figuring out how to change systems to make it easiest to do the best for patients. And I learned the critical importance of teamwork in this effort. That wisdom came from mentors who taught me what engineer and inventor Elon Musk eloquently affirmed. “It’s important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”

Upon arriving in Lexington, Kentucky I was thrilled to discover that Toyota partnered with UK to form the Lean Systems Program  at the College of Engineering. The Toyota Production System is renowned for championing this approach for decades and building the world’s largest automaker. In the past year the Center partnered with them to apply engineering principles to health care delivery. We are excited about how this collaboration can help us transform the system of care, especially by leveraging the expertise of frontline staff in the hospitals, clinics and communities where we perform our research. We hope to realize this goal through the translational arm of the Center—the Office for Value & Innovation in Healthcare Delivery (OVIHD). While the CHSR is housed in the University of Kentucky and collaborates directly with the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Health Sciences and Dentistry as well as numerous other colleges, OVIHD operates within UK HealthCare. 

With guidance from our three Associate Directors, an active Steering Committee, an Internal Advisory Board composed of
UK and UK HealthCare leadership and an experienced External Advisory Board, the CHSR is poised to transform patient care delivery at UK HealthCare and conduct nationally recognized research. As we connect, catalyze and create in our efforts to advance the science of health care delivery, the Center for Health Services Research at UK looks forward to helping improve the health of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


Mark V. Williams, MD, FACP, MHM
Director, Center for Health Services Research
University of Kentucky
Chief Transformation & Learning Officer
UK HealthCare