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What is a learning healthcare system?

A learning healthcare system (LHS) is a health system where input from many sources is combined in order to make the best decisions. Geisinger is becoming a learning healthcare system for the good of our patients and our community so that we can provide better care every day. In order to make the best decisions the health system looks at many sources of information on a regular basis so that it can learn and improve. Information comes from many sources including:

  • Patient surveys, health records and advisory groups
  • Providers providing feedback about the care they provide
  • Policies from within our medical system that dictate how our system operates
  • Scientific journals that are publishing new information about the medical field
  • Research conducted at Geisinger, or at other health systems around the world

Why is it important?

The Learning Healthcare System model is designed to help improve healthcare. For example, Geisinger is reviewing data all the time to help prevent medical mistakes and create a health system where learning and improvement are a priority.

Is Geisinger a Learning Healthcare System?

Geisinger works to be a learning health care system every day. We have a team that works together to help us become an LHS. This group is made up of people from clinical innovation, quality and safety, compliance, bioethics, research, pediatrics and other departments.

Geisinger is working to be a LHS in research, too. In 2014, Geisinger changed its research strategic plan to include a focus on using the LHS model in research and increasing patient engagement in research. 

What have we done so far? 

In June 2016, the LHS group held a conference* to teach people about three programs at Geisinger. The goal of the conference was to help figure out how the programs can work together. The programs are designed to:

  •  Help Geisinger become a LHS
  •  Improve patient experience and quality of care
  •  Involve patients in research, innovation, and quality improvement

Nearly 300 people attended the meeting including care providers, research investigators, institutional leaders, and more than 80 Geisinger patients. Special group discussions were held to talk about each of the programs. These discussions helped create a roadmap for improving the programs' coordination and usefulness. The conference also had 5 workshops that let people learn more and gain skills in certain areas. 

  • Helping people understand the right kind of guidance for learning activities that are a mix of research and quality improvement
  • Making review of health activities part of everyday practice
  • Improving patient experience
  • Planning, developing, and applying learning health activities
  • Telling patients who are interested in becoming partners in research about the opportunities that are available 

What else are we planning to do?

The LHS group is still working towards making Geisinger a learning healthcare system. Our next steps includes four phases:

  1. Develop a system to identify, assess, and track other local learning health initiatives, such as health centers, institutes, and programs that are using at least some parts of the LHS model.
  2. Find other learning health initiatives that have been successful and grown to include other areas (i.e. research). The group will identify the factors that allowed them to be successful. During this phase, these health initiatives will be linked so that they can collaborate and replicate what was successful. 
  3. Create a group of Geisinger team members who will be encouraged and supported to lead new efforts in organizational learning, experimentation, and innovation.
  4. Develop a foundation, working models and business models that will build on the lessons learned in the earlier phases. These will be used to help spread a system-wide culture of organizational learning.

    *June 2016 conference funded by a Eugene Washington Engagement Award from PCORI: Enhancing Patient and Family Centered Care through Learning, Discovery, and Engagement