Learning Health Systems

Harnessing the Power of Data

“Medical students graduating in the year 2020 will enter a world with 50 times as much health data as there was when they applied to medical school; biomedical knowledge will double every 73 days. Yet, at today's rate of health care quality improvement, and with today's decade-long lethal lag between new knowledge discovery and its widespread application, it would take 35 years for quality to double. The time is long overdue to harness the power of data, analytics, and knowledge to drive improvements that can touch people's lives and health. That’s what we do.”
- Joshua C. Rubin, JD, MBA, MPP, MPH
Program Officer, Learning Health System Initiatives

Learning health systems are organizations or networks that continuously self-study and adapt using data and analytics to generate knowledge, engage stakeholders and implement behavior change to transform practice. Since it was first expressed by the Institute of Medicine in 2007, the concept of the learning health system has been put into practice in many ways. While there is still long way to go in terms of universal adoption, there are promising signs we are on the right track.

Why are learning health systems important?

Learning health systems have emerged in response to these urgent health care challenges:

  • There’s a large lag in time between the publication of biomedical knowledge and the application of this knowledge to improve care at the clinical practice level.
  • Medical knowledge is expanding exponentially at a rapid rate.
  • The increase in health information technology and digital documentation of health care delivery begs for system-level innovations.
  • System-level improvement requires the formation of a diverse, interdisciplinary community to share ideas and learn from these evolving scientific endeavors.

As the first department of its kind, the Department of Learning Health Sciences leads learning health system research and collaboration at the University of Michigan and on the broader stage throughout the state, nation and world.

Our department supports the creation and implementation of learning health systems through education, research and service.

Examples of our most recent learning health systems projects include:

Collaboration opportunities:

  • U-M LHS Collaboratory: Multidisciplinary researchers working to establish U-M as the academic epicenter for learning health systems
  • ELSI LHS: Researchers creating a community of practice around the ethical, legal and social implications of a learning health system
  • Health System Innovation:  Learning health science researchers work with university partners to put learning health system principles into practice

Join our efforts! Contact