A Learning Health System – Closing the Gaps in Understanding and Applying Research Evidence in Clinical Care

Posted on November 4, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Nick Adkins shared a great tweet highlighting a post by Laura Crawford, an advisor for Eli Lilly, talking about her vision for a Learning Health System. Here’s an excerpt from Laura’s post:

The Learning Health System aims to close the gaps and lessen the delays in understanding and applying research evidence in clinical care. These gaps and this slowdown exist because of the sheer magnitude of the body of medical knowledge which doubles every 10-15 years. In fact, if a diligent doctor read 5 articles a night on new treatments for one year, they’d still need another 800 years to read the rest! Patients and health care professionals struggle to keep up with medical knowledge; we are at our cognitive limit when it comes to absorbing and applying evidence because:

  • There are now 9,000+ peer-reviewed biomedical journals
  • PubMed—the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s database of peer-reviewed medical articles—now adds over 2,000-4,000 articles to its database per day

Laura suggests that the solution to this cognitive overload is to create a Learning Health System. Since a picture is worth 1000 words, here’s a look at what that learning health system might look like:
The Learning Health System

I love the way this diagram illustrates the need to integrate and disseminate information from within your organization and external to your organization. One thing is certain. We need to find a more efficient way to make the evidence based medical knowledge that’s available more readily accessible to healthcare providers. Here’s one vision for making that possible, but no doubt there will be many more working to solve this incredibly important challenge.