What is a Learning Health System?

A Leader in Ethics and Learning Health Systems

What is a Learning Health System?

A Learning Health System (LHS) is one “in which science, informatics, incentives, and culture are aligned for continuous improvement and innovation, with best practices seamlessly embedded in the delivery process and new knowledge captured as an integral by-product of the delivery experience” (Institute of Medicine, 2007).  This means that data from ongoing health care encounters are continuously aggregated and analyzed, and what is learned from ongoing health care is incorporated into the improvement of future care, creating a natural feedback loop. A LHS is an aspirational model.  Elements of a LHS are being adopted and implemented increasingly in the U.S.

Informing Ethical Practice in Learning Health Systems

As interest in Learning Health Systems grows, The Berman Institute of Bioethics is deeply engaged in scholarly work on both the ethical foundations and ethical requirements of a LHS.

Through the development of a framework , scholarly articles, empirical studies, and participation on national committees, we are committed to informing the LHS ecosystem now and in the future, to ensure ethical practices associated with an evolving health care system.

Ethical Framework

Our Common Purpose framework for Learning Health Systems departs from the traditional paradigm of research ethics, which relies on drawing a sharp distinction between research and practice.  Instead, our framework assumes that the quality, efficiency and fairness of health care is improved when research and practice are integrated and provides an ethical framework for doing so.

Our Work

Berman Institute faculty bring decades of experience to this work and a commitment to help ensure that organizations and professionals move toward adoption of learning health care in ethically optimal ways.

The Berman Institute’s work on ethics and learning health systems spans from conceptual and policy work to empirical projects with patients, the general public, clinicians, and health care systems leaders.

Patients’ Views on Consent and Respect
Demonstrating Respect and Acceptable Consent Strategies: What Matters to Patients in PCOR?
PCORnet Ethics and Regulatory Task Force
Addressing the ethical and regulatory issues related to research that arise in PCORI’s work
Realizing the Goals of Continuous Learning
Insights on Ethics & Implementation from Institutional Leaders in Learning Health Care
Ethics of Integrating Research and Treatment
Filling in the knowledge and policy gaps to ensure high-value health care outcomes
Stakeholder Views on Streamlined Informed Consent
How should patients be informed about research that compares commonly used treatments or widely practiced medical procedures?
NIH Health Care System Research Collaboratory Regulatory/Ethics Core
Navigating regulatory and ethical complexities associated with pragmatic clinical trials in health care systems
Consent for Pragmatic Trials
Are there morally permissible and socially acceptable alternatives to informed consent for low-risk trials?

View All Publications

Here you will find access to our virtual library of published works organized by project. Additional publications not directly related to a specific project may also be found here.