Interdisciplinary Group Outlines Research Agenda for Realizing National-Scale Learning Health System

An article published online this month in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) outlines research challenges that must be addressed to achieve a high-functioning learning health system (LHS) that uses data to generate knowledge and improve care in continuous cycles. The article, titled “Toward a Science of Learning Systems: A Research Agenda for the High-Functioning Learning Health System,” is the product of an international workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The workshop involved 45 prominent interdisciplinary researchers, who examined use cases for a national-scale LHS to determine a path toward this goal.

“…the LHS can succeed only by creating novel combinations of role, process and technology. This must occur by working back from the future, not by figuring out how to fix the various problems with a current system that fails to learn rapidly, routinely, and at scale.”

The group synthesized a research agenda in the form of key questions targeted at four system-level requirements for a high-functioning LHS. The authors further propose that addressing these questions will involve evolution to a new interdisciplinary science of “cyber-social ecosystems” in which diverse stakeholders collaborate to drive innovation.

Additional information from the workshop, including participants, slides, and use cases, is available online.

Article authors include NIH Collaboratory Coordinating Center Co-Principal Investigator Richard Platt, MD, MSc, and Co-Chair of the NIH Collaboratory Electronic Health Records Core, Jeffrey Brown, PhD.