According to the Institute of Medicine, a learning health system is “designed to generate and apply the best evidence for the collaborative healthcare choices of each patient and provider; to drive the process of discovery as a natural outgrowth of patient care; and to ensure innovation, quality, safety, and value in health care.”

Learning health systems are poised to play an integral role in the foreseeable future, especially with the rapidly advancing technology to bolster them. Here we will explore the characteristics of learning health systems, the importance of them, and how they relate to chronic care management.

Characteristics of a Learning Health System

According to the Committee on the Learning Health Care System in America, the following are the main characteristics of a learning health system.

Science and Informatics

  • Real-time access to knowledge — Continuously and reliably captures, curates, and delivers the best available evidence to guide, support, tailor, and improve clinical decision making and care safety and quality.
  • Digital capture of the care experience — Captures the care experience on digital platforms for real-time generation and application of knowledge for care improvement.

Patient-Clinician Partnerships

  • Engaged, empowered patients — A learning health care system is anchored on patient needs and perspectives and promotes the inclusion of patients, families, and other caregivers as vital members of the continuously learning care team.

Incentives

  • Incentives aligned for value — Incentives actively aligned to encourage continuous improvement, identify and reduce waste, and reward high-value care.
  • Full transparency — Monitors of the safety, quality, processes, prices, costs, and outcomes of care, making information available for care improvement and informed choices and decision making by clinicians, patients, and their families.

Continuous Learning Culture

  • Leadership-instilled culture of learning — Leadership is committed to a culture of teamwork, collaboration, and adaptability in support of continuous learning as a core aim.
  • Supportive system competencies — A learning health care system constantly refines complex care operations and processes through ongoing team training and skill building, systems analysis and information development, and creation of the feedback loops for continuous learning and system improvement.

A particularly important characteristic is a consistent emphasis on a collaborative approach that shares data and insights across boundaries to drive better, more efficient medical practice and patient care. From here, comparative performance measurement and predictive analytics can be used to guide continuous improvement.

This experience extends to all levels of a learning health system including practice transformation teams; community, regional, statewide, and multi-state learning collaboratives; and formal medical education programs.

The Importance of Learning Health Systems

Learning health systems are vital in the effort to support health management and strive for continuous quality improvement for a population of patients.

According to Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, learning health systems are “a way to harness the power of the electronic medical record, engage patients and clinicians to ask meaningful questions, and make ensure that the knowledge that is produced is quickly integrated into care to improve health.”

One of the main drivers of learning health systems is to gather as much data as possible in order to improve the value provided from care. The industry is rapidly moving from a fee-for-service model to a value-based care model — yielding better results for both patients and providers.

Chronic Care Management and Learning Health Systems

Learning health systems have the potential to streamline Chronic Care Management and help organizations deliver efficient care to their patient population. Chronic Care Management platforms play an integral role in the technological side of learning health systems, offering better quality, better health, and better control over healthcare costs.

With the transition to value-based care, learning health systems — and therefore Chronic Care Management platforms — will help smooth this transition.


Privis Health brings extensive experience with data-driven learning and extension activities that will help meet program goals, particularly those of a value-based health system. Contact us today to see how our Chronic Care Management platform can help you.