The national health care system is beginning to embrace the idea of a continuously learning health care system, as proposed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in the report Best Care at Lower Cost. The necessity of such a system arose from the IOM’s Quality Chasm series, which proposed the spread of learning organizations as a method to improve the efficiency, speed, and effectiveness of information sharing and innovation among clinicians, payers, vendors, and, particularly, patients and consumers.
To move from the idea of a continuously learning health care system to its implementation, the IOM engaged an expert committee, the Comittee on the Learning Healthcare System in America, to investigate the possibilities and limitations that might exist in the capture and employment of patient-focused knowledge collected from clinicians, researchers, and educators. Mary Naylor of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing provided the perspective of nurses, the largest group of clinicians involved in patient care, on this committee. Her work helped the committee develop approaches to the problems of a complex health care system that are timely, relevant to nurses, and important for patients.