Learning health systems 2.0: Future-proofing healthcare against pandemics and climate change

Recent years have concretely shown the need for strengthened, robust healthcare systems which provide high quality care to patients with increasingly complex needs. The concept of a Learning Health System (LHS) was proposed as a health system that combines science, informatics, culture, and incentives to produce high quality care, and continuous improvement and innovation in the health system.

A new white paper from PCHSS researcher Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite and colleagues presents the case for building the “Learning Health System 2.0” – an LHS that is increasingly better prepared for, and adaptive to, the pressures of future pandemics and climate change. The research team conducted a rapid review of the literature on six key themes to understand how healthcare organisations can be strategically enabled to become next generation Learning Health Systems.

Most of the existing research builds upon the original LHS framework proposed by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM; then the Institute of Medicine (IoM)). The COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for healthcare organisations to utilise LHS principles in their health setting, but few studies examined how the LHS could be used to prepare better for the next pandemic. No studies explored how the LHS could be used to assist healthcare organisations to prepare for the impact that climate change will have on human health and health systems.

The findings from this white paper argue for health systems to use LHS frameworks, modelling and principles to manage the challenges presented by the current pandemic and the intensification of climate change, ultimately assisting those on the front lines of care to be future-proofed against pandemic- and climate-induced events as they unfold.

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