To overcome ongoing challenges, we need to develop health care systems predicated on data leveraging, continuing improvement, and incorporating patients’ perspectives and choices into decisions.

The concept of Learning Health Systems (LHS) is a solution where ‘science, informatics, incentives, and culture are aligned for enduring continuous improvement and innovation’, but aspirational studies and developments towards this goal require thorough review.

Comprehensive and routine reporting of implementation determinant and outcome frameworks will improve the assessment of barriers, enablers, and implementation outcomes.



A key goal of health systems around the world is the delivery of safe, high-quality care in a way that is sustainable and has patients at the heart. Learning Health Systems (LHS) is a concept that seeks to connect a myriad of data and knowledge with clinicians, families, and the patient themselves in a highly sophisticated way that fully supports informed decision making, and forms a continuous cycle of improvement. This is where technology, informatics, education and culture combine at the bedside.

Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite and Dr Louise Ellis from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, have published a review of papers on PubMed and Scopus that have an explicit empirical focus on LHS. The research is published in the JMIR Medical Informatics and concludes that “although there has been considerable growth in empirical applications of LHSs within the past 5 years, paralleling the recent emergence of LHS-specific research strategies and tools, there are few high-quality studies. Comprehensive reporting of implementation and evaluation efforts is an important step to moving the LHS field forward. In particular, the routine use of implementation determinant and outcome frameworks will improve the assessment and reporting of barriers, enablers, and implementation outcomes in this field and will enable comparison and identification of trends across studies”.

Dr Ellis said "What’s really promising is to see the increased number of LHS empirical studies, as well as the development of LHS-specific research tools and frameworks. What we hope to see in the coming years is increased application of such tailored tools, moving us a step closer to realising the potential of the LHS vision."

This latest research follows the release in 2020 of the seminal White Paper (Mapping the Learning Health System: a scoping review of current evidence. A white paper) which is used by the American National Institutes of Medicine US Steering Committee on The Learning Healthcare System (affiliated with George Washington University), to strategize ways to facilitate the uptake and spread of LHS principles. The committee is drawing heavily from the White Paper and this latest research to develop an online toolkit to facilitate the development and evaluation of learning health systems.


Read more here.