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A 'learning health system' moves from idea to action
Date:8/6/2012

In the United States, clinicians are struggling to provide better and more affordable health care to more peoplewhile keeping up with new scientific developments. The idea of a "learning health system" is one proposed solution for rapidly applying the best available scientific evidence in real-time clinical practice. In the August 7 Annals of Internal Medicine, a Group Health Cooperative team describes the experience of turning this intriguing concept into action.

"In a learning health system, evidence and practice come together in a virtuous cycle, influencing each other," first author Sarah M. Greene, MPH, said. "At Group Health, we strive to translate evidence into practice and policy quickly. At the same time, we try to align our research with the questions that clinicians and administrators need to answer ASAP."

Ms. Greene is a director of strategy and business development at Group Health, a nonprofit health system that provides care and coverage in Washington state. She is also an affiliate investigator at Group Health's research arm, Group Health Research Institute. Her coauthors were Robert J. Reid, MD, PhD; Group Health's associate medical director for research translation and an associate investigator at Group Health Research Institute; and Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, Group Health's vice president for research and Group Health Research Institute's executive director.

"Researchers and clinicians are realizing that innovation is not enough to fix the nation's health care system," Dr. Larson said. "We need to move innovations immediately into real-world health care settings, and learning health systems are a way to do this."

Strong leadership support and a growing partnership between research and clinical operations have made it possible for Group Health to evolve as a learning health system, Ms. Greene explained. This partnership has fostered a culture and an infrastructure to facilitate rapid learning.

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Contact: Rebecca Hughes
hughes.r@ghc.org
206-287-2055
Group Health Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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