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Institute of Medicine (US); Grossmann C, Powers B, McGinnis JM, editors. Digital Infrastructure for the Learning Health System: The Foundation for Continuous Improvement in Health and Health Care: Workshop Series Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.

Cover of Digital Infrastructure for the Learning Health System

Digital Infrastructure for the Learning Health System: The Foundation for Continuous Improvement in Health and Health Care: Workshop Series Summary.

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Foreword

Marshaling the best information has always been fundamental to the success of all aspects of health and health care—medical diagnosis and treatment, quality improvement, public health and health research. What is different today—and what makes this field so exciting—is the possibility, through digital data systems, to have information that is not only relevant to actions and decisions for the delivery of care, but is available, accessible, transferable, usable, and manipulatable in a way that integrates information from a number of sources and provides unprecedented opportunity for learning and improvement.

Improvement is clearly vital. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine issued its landmark report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, which drew the nation’s attention sharply to the fact that health care in the United States was falling far short of its potential. The central lesson in that report was, in effect, that the nation needed a continuously improving learning health system that reliably delivered the best outcome. In 2006, the Institute of Medicine chartered the Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine, now the Round-table on Value & Science-Driven Health Care, to engage key stakeholders in a discussion of ways to ensure that better information is available and used to transform healthcare delivery in this country. The Roundtable brings together patients, consumers, providers, researchers, health product manufacturers, payers, employees, and policy makers to discuss health reform priorities in a neutral venue and identify key impediments to progress toward a patient-centered learning health system. The Roundtable’s vision of a learning health system describes a health infrastructure characterized by evidence-based care that ensures proper decision making for each patient and provider, and generates scientific evidence as a natural by-product of the care process.

Building on previous efforts to characterize, develop, and implement the infrastructure for a learning health system, and with generous support from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the Roundtable convened stakeholders from across the healthcare and information technology fields in a series of workshops whose discussions are summarized in this volume, Digital Infrastructure for the Learning Health System: The Foundation for Continuous Improvement in Health and Health Care.

This compilation summarizes the presentations and discussions from the series, which look at the role of the digital health data systems and how they can be used to provide the information backbone for a learning health system. Participants worked to identify the opportunities, challenges, and priorities represented by the application of new information systems to health care and to consider strategy options that could further the development of a learning health system.

I would like to extend my personal thanks especially to David Blumenthal and his Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, its Chief Scientist, Charles Friedman, to the Planning Committee assembled for the series, to the Roundtable membership for their continued leadership and commitment to advancing health care in this nation, and to the Roundtable staff for their contributions in coordinating and supporting the meeting series and ongoing Roundtable activities.

Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D.

President, Institute of Medicine

Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK83562
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