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Data-driven learning health systems

Researchers are calling on policymakers to support the use of data-driven learning health systems to deliver a step change in the NHS’s ability to improve patient care.  

The call comes as a new report from Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and the Health Foundation warns that tackling the huge pressures currently faced by health and care services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and underfunding will require action on multiple fronts, and with learning health systems a key part of the mix.   

Learning health systems are approaches that enable iterative, data-driven improvements to health and care systems that draw on the increasing availability of clinical and patient-generated data.

The report suggests the learning health system approach offers a more powerful and sustainable route to improving NHS efficiency than relying on short-term, high-cost, external consultancy support or nationwide improvement programmes that are not tailored to local and regional needs. 

Alice Turnbull, National Programme Director at HDR UK, said: “The UK health and care system is facing some of its most significant resource challenges in its history. The long-term impact of the COVID pandemic combined with the current economic crisis makes it even more urgent to embed approaches which deliver sustainable and effective improvements in care and position our NHS to meet future health needs.”

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