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Pacific Business Group on Health (


This glossary is intended to define terms commonly encountered throughout this workshop summary as well as some terms that are commonly used in the managed care industry. This glossary is not all-inclusive. New terms and new usages of existing terms will emerge with time and advances in technology. Definitions for the terms presented here were compiled from a multitude of sources, which are listed at the end of the glossary.

Academic Health Centers (AHCs):

Academic health centers, or AHCs, consist of health care institutions that are owned by or closely affiliated with a university or medical school. AHCs also have at least one additional health professional program, and are engaged in undergraduate and graduate medical education, biomedical research, and delivery of patient care.


Class of substances or chemicals that can kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria. Originally antibiotics were derived from natural sources (e.g., penicillin from molds), but many currently used antibiotics are semisynthetic and are modified by the addition of artificial chemical components.

Antibiotic resistance:

Property of bacteria that confers the capacity to inactirate or exclude antibiotics or a mechanism that blocks the inhibitory or killing effects of antibiotics.

Antimicrobial agents:

Class of substances that can destroy or inhibit the growth of pathogenic groups of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi.


Microscopic, single-celled organisms that have some biochemical and structural features different from those of animal and plant cells.

Basic research:

Fundamental, theoretical, or experimental investigation to advance scientific knowledge, with immediate practical application not being a direct objective.


For a particular indicator or performance goal, the industry measure of best performance. The benchmarking process identifies the best performance in the industry (health care or non-health care) for a particular process or outcome, determines how that performance is achieved, and applies the lessons learned to improve performance.

Broad-spectrum antibiotic:

An antibiotic effective against a large number of bacterial species. It generally describes antibiotics effective against both gram-positive and gram-negative classes of bacteria.

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