January 26, 2016

University of Michigan launches first-in-the-world degree programs in Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems

The University of Michigan announces two new advanced degrees in Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems (HILS). Led by the Department of Learning Health Sciences in the medical school, the HILS MS and PhD programs aim to develop researchers and practitioners who can conceptualize and deliver innovative solutions, enabled by information technology, for behavior change and continuous improvement of health of individuals and populations. 

The HILS program emphasizes the concept of the Learning Health System, which is gaining national and global recognition as a mechanism to improve individual and population health. In a learning system, every experience is documented and studied, and the resulting insights employed to drive change. The HILS program recognizes the critical role of infrastructure—integrating technology, policy, and practice--in making health improvement through learning systems continuous and sustainable. These foci on infrastructure and health make HILS a unique program, addressing a critically important component of society where effectiveness, efficiency and safety are critical concerns.  The HILS PhD program will prepare graduates to perform research fundamental to the creation of learning health systems; the MS program will prepare practitioners for careers emphasizing the implementation of learning systems.

“The Learning Health System is a transformational concept that is capturing imaginations and inspiring innovation worldwide” says Charles P. Friedman, PhD, Chair of the Department of Learning Health Sciences and Josiah Macy Jr. Professor of Medical Education. Dr. Friedman has been a leader and invited speaker for institutional, statewide, national, and international events on the Learning Health System since 2010. He adds, “At Michigan, we recognize that the challenge of creating a high-functioning Learning Health System creates a large academic agenda. The HILS program will address an enormous, world-wide need for a new generation of ‘health infrastructuralists.’”

The HILS program aims to attract students and scholars who come from a variety of disciplines, including health sciences; information, computing and statistical sciences; informatics; complexity and systems science; behavioral and social sciences; organizational and policy sciences; engineering; and economics.

Anne Sales, PhD, RN, is the Director of the HILS Program. Dr. Sales is a Professor of Learning Health Sciences and adjunct Professor of Systems, Populations and Leadership in the School of Nursing. Dr. Sales’ expertise includes the implementation of evidence-based practice in clinical settings and assessment of organizational readiness to change behavior. Sales explains, “We aim to attract students who are curious about behavior, about knowledge, and about health, and who want passionately to improve experiences and outcomes for everyone involved in systems of care. Our scholarship covers the spectrum of learning health system models, and will support the transformation of health care locally, nationally, and globally.”

“I am captivated by the vision of the learning health system because of its uniquely human-­centered focus, to guide the design and engineering of ultra large scale health systems,” says Zachary Landis-Lewis, PhD, MLIS, an Assistant Professor of Learning Health Sciences. “I anticipate that the HILS program will provide an exceptional training ground for researchers and professionals who aim to study how computers can reason with data to support the confidence, trust and relationship­building core of learning health systems.” 

Information about the program, including how to apply for the inaugural class beginning Fall 2016, is available here.