HIMSS Supports National-Scale Learning Health System’s Core Values

CHICAGO (September 24, 2012) – At its September 14, 2012 meeting in Washington, DC ,the HIMSS Board of Directors confirmed its endorsement of the core values of a Learning Health System.  With this data-sharing federation, individuals, care delivery systems, public health programs and clinical research settings will contribute data that can be shared in timely and actionable formats to help patients, caregivers and others make informed health decisions, separately or collaboratively.

These core values were developed at the Learning Health System Summit, convened by the Joseph E. Kanter Family Foundation, from May 17-18, 2012, in Washington, DC, where representatives from 80 organizations gathered to review and discuss the future of the LHS. As noted in its letter to the Kanter foundation, “HIMSS endorses these Core Values to express its support for the concept of a national-scale LHS, and to express its belief that these values are foundational to a successful, multi-stakeholder process to advance the nation toward an LHS in pursuit of better health for all.”

This HIMSS endorsement comes following the release of the groundbreaking Institute of Medicine Report Better Care at Lower Cost. The report indicts the American healthcare system as wasteful and dangerous, citing an estimated $750 billion dollars in waste in 2009 and 75,000 needless deaths in 2005.

In addition, the report makes recommendations for improving digital infrastructure, achieving care coordination, making care patient centric, improving transparency, and structuring payment to incentivize continuous learning. These recommendations are designed to transform the current health care system through the use of tools and incentives for continuous assessment and improvement.

“The 10 core values for the proposed Learning Health System and recommendations in the IOM report (Better Care at Lower Cost) also closely align with many of our policy principles and overall cause to improve healthcare with the best use of IT,” says H. Stephen Lieber, CAE, HIMSS President and CEO. Lieber also cited case studies from HIMSS Davies Award winners and Stage 7 hospitals showing how information technology, and patient-centric and coordinated care, improves healthcare delivery and reduces costs. “The LHS will provide options for anyone seeking research information on quality care and preventive care. This multi-stakeholder approach will streamline the process to identify and gather data so that they are accessible in a secure way to anyone who can benefit from their use.”


A learning health care system generates and applies the best evidence for the collaborative health care choices of each patient and provider; drives the process of discovery as a natural outgrowth of patient care; and ensures innovation, quality, safety, and value in health care. In such a system, knowledge flows seamlessly between and among patients, providers, diagnostic facilities, and related community services. The best knowledge about treatments, diagnostics, and care delivery is naturally embedded in the delivery process, and new knowledge is captured as an integral by-product of the delivery experience.

Source:  Better Care at Lower Cost, Institute of Medicine, September 2012


As an example of what an LHS could do, the IOM report states that “…advances in patient engagement take on increased importance as a means of ensuring that patients can find the right care for their individual characteristics, needs, preferences, and circumstances. Patients and clinicians both need to be involved for optimal care. Clinicians supply information and advice based on their scientific expertise in treatment and intervention options. Patients, their families, and other caregivers bring personal knowledge on the suitability of different treatments for the patient’s circumstances and preferences. Information from both sources is needed to select the right care options.”

The core values for the Learning Health System and developed by participating attendees at the Learning Health System Summit follow.

Person-Focused:The LHS will protect and improve the health of individuals by informing choices about health and healthcare.  The LHS will do this by enabling strategies that engage individuals, families, groups, communities, and the general population, as well as the United States healthcare system as a whole.

Privacy:The LHS will protect the privacy, confidentiality, and security of all data to enable responsible sharing of data, information, and knowledge, as well as to build trust among all stakeholders.

Inclusiveness:  Every individual and organization committed to improving the health of individuals, communities, and diverse populations, who abides by the governance of the LHS, is invited and encouraged to participate.

Transparency:With a commitment to integrity, all aspects of LHS operations will be open and transparent to safeguard and deepen the trust of all stakeholders in the system, as well as to foster accountability.

Accessibility:All should benefit from the public good derived from the LHS.

Therefore, the LHS should be available and should deliver value to all, while encouraging and incentivizing broad and sustained participation.

Adaptability:  The LHS will be designed to enable iterative, rapid adaptation and incremental evolution to meet current and future needs of stakeholders.

Governance:  The LHS will have that governance which is necessary to support its sustainable operation, to set required standards, to build and maintain trust on the part of all stakeholders, and to stimulate ongoing innovation.

Cooperative and Participatory Leadership:  The leadership of the LHS will be a multi-stakeholder collaboration across the public and private sectors including patients, consumers, caregivers, and families, in addition to other stakeholders.  Diverse communities and populations will be represented.  Bold leadership and strong user participation are essential keys to unlocking the potential of the LHS.

Scientific Integrity:  The LHS and its participants will share a commitment to the most rigorous application of science to ensure the validity and credibility of findings, and the open sharing and integration of new knowledge in a timely and responsible manner.

Value:The LHS will support learning activities that can serve to optimize both the quality and affordability of healthcare.  The LHS will be efficient and seek to minimize financial, logistical, and other burdens associated with participation.


HIMSS is a cause-based, not-for-profit organization exclusively focused on providing global leadership for the optimal use of information technology (IT) and management systems for the betterment of healthcare. Founded 51 years ago, HIMSS and its related organizations are headquartered in Chicago with additional offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. HIMSS represents more than 44,000 individual members, of which more than two thirds work in healthcare provider, governmental and not-for-profit organizations. HIMSS also includes over 570 corporate members and more than 170 not-for-profit organizations that share our mission of transforming healthcare through the effective use of information technology and management systems. HIMSS frames and leads healthcare practices and public policy through its content expertise, professional development, research initiatives, and media vehicles designed to promote information and management systems’ contributions to improving the quality, safety, access, and cost-effectiveness of patient care. To learn more about HIMSS and to find out how to join us and our members in advancing our cause, please visit our website at www.himss.org.