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AHRQ and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Collaborate to Train a New Generation of Learning Health System Scientists
The benefits of learning health systems (LHS) are increasingly evident in today’s data-rich healthcare environment. By collecting and analyzing data and experience from diverse sources, these systems are able to generate the best evidence to optimize care they deliver to patients and ultimately improve health outcomes.
High-performing learning health systems promote innovation and systems change based on rigorous research for continuous improvement. They are committed to improving health impact by evolving in ways that provide patients with higher quality, safer, and more efficient care across the care continuum. They also strive to make healthcare delivery organizations better places to work.
However, these efforts can only advance when health systems employ people with the right skills to explore the relevant evidence and produce insights that can be implemented to improve patient care. With those needs in mind, AHRQ and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) are pleased to invite qualified applicants to join a new initiative that will invest up to $50 million over five years to train a new class of learning health system scientists through the creation of Learning Health System Embedded Scientist Training and Research (LHS E-StaR) Centers.
These new investments build upon a partnership launched in 2018: the AHRQ-PCORI Institutional Mentored Career Development Program (K12). That year, AHRQ and PCORI co-funded 11 academic institutions to train embedded scientists in the skills needed to conduct patient-centered outcomes research and comparative clinical effectiveness research.
Establishing competencies for learning health system scientists has been central to the success of the K12 program. Since the initiative began, program directors have added vital competency domains to training, including Health Systems Science and Health Equity and Justice. The program has shown notable achievements, with more than 100 learning health system scholars trained; more than 400 publications authored by trainees; and numerous partnerships with safety-net health systems and engagements with stakeholders to address systems concerns and patient needs.
The newest funding opportunity advances innovative LHS infrastructure by establishing independent LHS E-StaR Centers that are designed to:
- Strengthen comparative effectiveness research and patient-centered outcomes research training.
- Enhance diversity within the learning health system research workforce.
- Support partnerships with community organizations, healthcare systems, and other stakeholders.
- Conduct research projects that prioritize improving health system operations, healthcare quality, and health outcomes.
Insights from community organizations about the root causes of local and regional health challenges are vital to the success of these efforts. The AHRQ-PCORI funding opportunity advances participating organizations’ commitment to meaningful engagement by calling for partnerships between health systems, academic institutions, and community organizations. Each of these components is essential to advancing rapid learning projects that spread knowledge, advance health system performance, and improve outcomes that matter to patients and communities.
Ultimately, by providing tailored training for scientists embedded within health systems and fostering a range of career pathways for trainees, the funded LHS E-StaR Centers will help build a diverse research workforce that is representative of the breadth of backgrounds and cultures of the communities it serves and enable research that accelerates the evolution of integrated learning health systems.
Funding applications are due by March 24. To learn more, access our Notice of Funding Opportunity. We look forward to receiving your proposals for advancing learning health systems!
Dr. Valdez is Director of AHRQ. Dr. Cook is the Executive Director of PCORI.
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