The concept of a continuously Learning Health System (LHS), first expressed by the Institute of Medicine in 2007, is now being rapidly adopted across the country and around the world. That initial report catalyzed a 15-volume Learning Health System Series, published by the National Academies Press. The LHS is based on cycles that include data and analytics to generate knowledge, leading feedback of that knowledge to stakeholders, with the goal to change behavior to improve health and to transform organizational practice. At the heart of the Learning Health System is instilling the capacity and commitment to learn at all levels of the healthcare system, making every stakeholder interaction an opportunity to continuously improve the system.
Realizing the LHS vision promises to transform healthcare and health, empowering every health professional who works to protect and advance individual and population health to do so in novel and disruptive ways. Realizing the LHS will also forever change what it means to be a patient or caregiver, with its most profound disruptive impacts affecting the work of protecting and advancing one's own health or the health of a loved one.
At the heart of the LHS vision is a fundamental question: how do we catalyze, sustain, and continually advance a massive socio-technical transformation of a system touching everyone's life and health and encompassing over one-sixth of a nation's economy when such a transformation will take years or decades, likely requires the participation of - or at least affects - stakeholders inside and outside of healthcare, and is urgently needed. Addressing this challenge requires stakeholders with seemingly divergent interests to work together. It involves knowledge and skills from many disciplines to come together and be able to effectively and efficiently communicate and collaborate with one another. It will require technology and people, and affects physical systems, information systems, and social systems.
The education, research, and service activities of the Division of Learning and Knowledge Systems embrace this vision of the Learning Health System.