Training Spotlight

Training Spotlight

Systems Integration

Access to Care At the heart of systems integration lies systems thinking, a discipline for seeing wholes, interrelationships and patterns of change. By focusing on the interrelationships among key elements within a system, and the influence of these interrelationships on the system’s behavior over time, leaders implementing improvements can pursue several goals at once, simultaneously reducing the potential for unintended consequences by predicting upstream and downstream influences and effects. By coordinating efforts across systems of care, programs to improve maternal and child health (MCH) can increase coverage and reduce barriers to the use of services and supports. Linking medical and non-medical sectors (to encompass education, housing, social services, mental health, and early childhood systems) can help minimize risk factors and promote health and wellness across the life course.

MCH leaders need a broad understanding of system thinking in order to achieve collective impact. They need to hone their leadership skills and master the concepts of systems science, system dynamics, mental modeling, concept mapping, network analysis, and technology systems.

Health transformation offers both challenges and opportunities for MCH delivery systems. MCH professionals will play an important role in developing systems and integrating services that optimize the use of human and financial resources, and address disparities at the population level. While the concept of systems integration is not new, its application to MCH in light of changing health systems presents a unique challenge, and opportunity, for MCH professionals.

This Spotlight provides links to selected trainings and related tools on the topics of systems integration, integrated services, and systems development. It addresses a priority focus of the National MCH Workforce Development Center. As online trainings emerge, the MCH Navigator will update this resource with new material.

Access to Care These trainings support the National MCH Workforce Development Center as it offers state and territorial Title V leaders training, collaborative learning, coaching and consultation in implementing health reform in four core areas: access to care; quality improvement; systems integration; and furthering change management that will lead health transformation for MCH populations. Also see the Health Transformation Portal for additional resources.

This Spotlight provides links to selected trainings and related tools on the topics of system integration, integrated services, and systems development. It addresses the 5 competencies for needed improvement identified by the National MCH Workforce Development Center. As online trainings emerge to address all of the competencies identified, the MCH Navigator will update this resource with new material.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Systems Science Terminology and Methods

These learning opportunities address the National MCH Workforce Development Center Systems Integration Competency: Gain exposure to systems science terminology and methods, and the breadth of health- related applications for current programs addressing MCH public health challenges.

Problem Identification, Evaluation, and System Solution Methods

These learning opportunities address the National MCH Workforce Development Center Systems Competency: Learn how to identify complex problems for which different types of systems science methods are useful.

New Leverage Points for Change with MCH Systems

These learning opportunities address the National MCH Workforce Development Center Systems Competency: Identify new leverage points for change with MCH systems.

Systems Diagrams

These learning opportunities address the National MCH Workforce Development Center Systems Competency: Utilize system diagrams to describe and study complex system problems across multiple stakeholder groups (i.e. system dynamics causal-loop diagrams or integrated service diagrams) to facilitate collective impact and improve outcomes.

Promises and Challenges of Health Reform

These learning opportunities address the National MCH Workforce Development Center Systems Competency: Recognize both the promises and challenges that health reform brings to MCH systems integration.​​

Resources from NCEMCH


Systems Integration: Training Spotlight
September 2014; Updated August 2015
Authors: Beth DeFrancis, M.L.S., Keisha Watson-Bah, Ph.D., John Richards, M.A., AITP, MCH Navigator
Reviewers: Faculty and staff of the National MCH Workforce Development Center

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UE8MC25742; MCH Navigator for $180,000/year. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.