Integrating Patient-Centered Care and Research

Integrating Patient-Centered Care and Research

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Improving small pieces of health care helps the patients who use those services, but a new initiative called the Learning Health Systems Network, led through the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, seeks to collect all those pieces and level up the whole shebang.

Research Provides the Evidence

Understanding how environmental, behavioral and genetic factors affect health and disease helps the medical community find ways to prevent or treat illness. Researchers must observe causes and effects. They must test potential interventions and treatments in clinical trials, and compare the effectiveness of different options. These different elements of clinical research are critical to translating general knowledge and hypothetical ways to improve health into real improvements in health and health care delivery.

Network of Clinical Research

The Learning Health Systems Network was formed to develop and codify the best ways to incorporate clinical research and clinical trials into the fabric of our nation’s health care system.

“Together we are seeking to create a culture shift,” says Véronique Roger, M.D., a Mayo Clinic health care delivery researcher and the principal investigator for the Learning Health Systems Network. “We want to get to a place where patient-centered care is in full alignment with patient-centered research.”

Comprised of nine organizations representing different facets of health care (health systems, health insurer, data partner/university, public health), the group includes nearly 10 million patients.

Fig. 1. Patient-Centered Network of Learning Health Systems technical structure. CDM: Common Data Model; Co:County; EMR: Electronic Medical Record. “Figure 1” by Rutten et al is licensed under CC by 4.0 from the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science

The team believes that Learning Health Systems network will increase the efficiency with which medical knowledge is created, validated and translated into clinical practice. It is one of 13 similarly chartered organizations funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute as a clinical data research network. These clinical data research networks link together into PCORnet, a national clinical data research network that enables both observational and trial research.

Fig. 2. Patient-Centered Network of Learning Health Systems (LHSNet) governance structure. PI: principal investigator; PD: project director. “Figure 2” by Rutten et al. is licensed under CC by 4.0 from the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science

However, Dr. Roger says, “we believe that for patients, the most important result of LHSNet’s work will not be proving the effectiveness of particular treatments or public health interventions, but the improved feedback and continuous improvement loop LHSNet enables.”

This, she continues, “will lead to ongoing improvements in health and health care delivery across the entire system, and be of benefit to our 10 million patients, and patients everywhere.”

Dr. Roger is also a cardiologist, the Elizabeth C. Lane, Ph.D., and M. Nadine Zimmerman, Ph.D., Professor of Internal Medicine; and the medical director of the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

— Elizabeth Zimmermann Young, Feb. 14, 2017