Learning System

UM as the Engine of a Global “Learning System” to Transform Health

There is no greater global challenge than improving the health of individuals and populations. Nations around the world–including of course our own–are plagued by rising health costs, inconsistent safety and outcomes, a persistent latency between best practice knowledge and its actual application in health maintenance and health care, and an inefficient public health and biomedical research infrastructure. In the face of this challenge, there is increasing recognition that improved individual and population health can be catalyzed by a Learning Health System (LHS) working at national scale and capitalizing on the increasing amount of health data accessible in digital form. The LHS is effectively a Smart Grid for health, a multi-stakeholder federation that enables continuous access to data relevant to any specific health problem from entities across the nation, conduct of analyses converting raw data to useful knowledge, and transmission of that knowledge to all stakeholders in formats that promote positive action and health-promoting behavioral change. In this way, the LHS enables a continuously and rapidly operating virtuous cycle of health improvement through study, feedback, and change.

Our project will align with and empower a growing national and international mobilization to achieve an LHS. Engaging the extraordinary resources of this university, including a team of 43 faculty members and senior staff from 10 academic units, we will develop key elements that make possible a complete LHS at national and ultimately global scale. Because most LHS development efforts to date have emphasized the aggregation and analysis of data to generate new knowledge, our project will develop rigorous and scalable methods to disseminate that new knowledge, once created, back to the stakeholders to promote behaviors and decisions that improve health. Our approach will be grounded in four domains relevant to the socio-technical challenge of knowledge dissemination: science, engagement, technology, and policy. Our Phase 1 effort will develop key capabilities of the LHS with reference to two specific case scenarios: one relating to the needs of persons with multiple chronic diseases, and the second relating to public health disease surveillance. These capabilities are essential to transform the LHS into a complete high-performance system that can achieve its ambitious goals.

Project Team:

Charles Friedman, School of Information and School of Public Health
(Plus over 40 faculty and senior staff members from nine schools and UMHS)