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      Type and use of digital technology in learning health systems: a scoping review protocol

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          Health systems in North America and Europe have been criticised for their lack of safety, efficiency and effectiveness despite rising healthcare costs. In response, healthcare leaders and researchers have articulated the need to transform current health systems into continuously and rapidly learning health systems (LHSs). While digital technology has been envisioned as providing the transformational power for LHSs by generating timely evidence and supporting best care practices, it remains to be ascertained if it is indeed playing this role in current LHS initiatives. This paper presents a protocol for a scoping review that aims at providing a comprehensive understanding of how and to what extent digital technology is used within LHSs. Results will help to identify gaps in the literature as a means to guide future research on this topic.

          Methods and analysis

          Multiple databases and grey literature will be searched with terms related to learning health systems. Records selection will be done in duplicate by two reviewers applying pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data extraction from selected records will be done by two reviewers using a piloted data charting form. Results will be synthesised through a descriptive numerical summary and a mapping of digital technology use onto types of LHSs and phases of learning within LHSs.

          Ethics and dissemination

          Ethical approval is not required for this scoping review. Preliminary results will be shared with stakeholders to account for their perspectives when drawing conclusions. Final results will be disseminated through presentations at relevant conferences and publications in peer-reviewed journals.

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          Most cited references 20

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          Systematic review: impact of health information technology on quality, efficiency, and costs of medical care.

          Experts consider health information technology key to improving efficiency and quality of health care. To systematically review evidence on the effect of health information technology on quality, efficiency, and costs of health care. The authors systematically searched the English-language literature indexed in MEDLINE (1995 to January 2004), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Cochrane Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, and the Periodical Abstracts Database. We also added studies identified by experts up to April 2005. Descriptive and comparative studies and systematic reviews of health information technology. Two reviewers independently extracted information on system capabilities, design, effects on quality, system acquisition, implementation context, and costs. 257 studies met the inclusion criteria. Most studies addressed decision support systems or electronic health records. Approximately 25% of the studies were from 4 academic institutions that implemented internally developed systems; only 9 studies evaluated multifunctional, commercially developed systems. Three major benefits on quality were demonstrated: increased adherence to guideline-based care, enhanced surveillance and monitoring, and decreased medication errors. The primary domain of improvement was preventive health. The major efficiency benefit shown was decreased utilization of care. Data on another efficiency measure, time utilization, were mixed. Empirical cost data were limited. Available quantitative research was limited and was done by a small number of institutions. Systems were heterogeneous and sometimes incompletely described. Available financial and contextual data were limited. Four benchmark institutions have demonstrated the efficacy of health information technologies in improving quality and efficiency. Whether and how other institutions can achieve similar benefits, and at what costs, are unclear.
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            Achieving a nationwide learning health system.

            We outline the fundamental properties of a highly participatory rapid learning system that can be developed in part from meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs). Future widespread adoption of EHRs will make increasing amounts of medical information available in computable form. Secured and trusted use of these data, beyond their original purpose of supporting the health care of individual patients, can speed the progression of knowledge from the laboratory bench to the patient's bedside and provide a cornerstone for health care reform.
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              Types of unintended consequences related to computerized provider order entry.

              To identify types of clinical unintended adverse consequences resulting from computerized provider order entry (CPOE) implementation. An expert panel provided initial examples of adverse unintended consequences of CPOE. The authors, using qualitative methods, gathered and analyzed additional examples from five successful CPOE sites. Using a card sort method, the authors developed a categorization scheme for the 79 unintended consequences initially identified and then iteratively modified the scheme to categorize 245 additional adverse consequences resulting from fieldwork. Because the focus centered on consequences requiring prevention or remedial action, the authors did not further analyze reported unintended beneficial (positive) consequences. Unintended adverse consequences (UACs) fell into nine major categories (in order of decreasing frequency): 1) more/new work for clinicians; 2) unfavorable workflow issues; 3) never ending system demands; 4) problems related to paper persistence; 5) untoward changes in communication patterns and practices; 6) negative emotions; 7) generation of new kinds of errors; 8) unexpected changes in the power structure; and 9) overdependence on the technology. Clinical decision support features introduced many of these unintended consequences. Identifying and understanding the types and in some instances the causes of unintended adverse consequences associated with CPOE will enable system developers and implementers to better manage implementation and maintenance of future CPOE projects.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                5 May 2019
                : 9
                : 5
                [1 ] departmentTelfer School of Management , University of Ottawa , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                [2 ] Institut du Savoir Montfort - Research , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                [3 ] University of Ottawa , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                [4 ] Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                [5 ] departmentDepartments of Obstetrics-Gynaecology and Surgery, Faculty of Medicine , University of Ottawa , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                [6 ] departmentThe Ottawa Hospital – General Campus , University of Ottawa/Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Professor Lysanne Lessard; lessard@
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

                Funded by: Telfer School of Management Research Grants;
                Health Informatics
                Custom metadata


                digital technology, learning health systems, scoping review


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