UCSF’s Drive to Become a Learning Healthcare System Gains Momentum

Electronic health record terminal with nurse
Photo credit: Susan Merrell

UC San Francisco (UCSF) has funded five new projects that use the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) platform to improve care. The projects will utilize the EMR to deliver evidence-based interventions at the point of care to improve important healthcare indicators, such as patient outcomes, quality, productivity and safety.

A call for proposals was made to UCSF faculty, fellows and staff to solicit project ideas, resulting in a total of 18 proposals. The five winning projects were awarded in April.

The projects are part of UCSF’s ongoing efforts to become a Learning Healthcare System. A Learning Health System is a healthcare system that learns from itself by capturing and analyzing data from patient encounters and using that evidence to ensure optimal care is delivered to patients. The concept was first introduced by the Institute of Medicine in a 2012 report. 

UCSF’s path to a continuously learning healthcare system is an enterprise-wide undertaking, with six groups coming together to sponsor the projects and collaborate on future initiatives. They include the Offices of the UCSF Chief Health Information Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Quality Officer, Enterprise Information Analytics Program, Institutional Review Board (IRB), and Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

2017 UCSF Learning Healthcare System Project Awardees

  1. Rebecca Sudore, MD, “Honoring Patients’ Wishes: Harnessing the Electronic Health Record to Improve Advance Care Planning in Primary Care”
  2. Deborah Franzon, MD, “ABCDE Ready! Applying Best Clinical practice to Determine Extubation Readiness with an EMR Enabled Clinical Prediction Tool”
  3. Valerie Flaherman, MD, “Beginning with a Healthy Start: Reducing the Need for Non-Preventive Healthcare Utilization in the First Month of Life”
  4. Sajan Patel, MD, “De-escalating Routine Care: Using Machine Learning to Automatically Reduce Vital Sign Checks in Stable Patients”
  5. Ralph Wang, MD, “Ultrasound-first Clinical Decision Support to Reduce Radiation Exposure to ED Patients with Suspected Nephrolithiasis”

Read Project Descriptions 

“Becoming a Learning Healthcare System is one of UCSF Health’s True North Pillars, a set of six strategic priorities that guide our organization,” says Russ Cucina, MD, MS, vice president, health informatics and chief health information officer at UCSF Health.  “These innovative projects will directly support our drive to continuously improve as a healthcare system.  We look forward to future calls for proposals, which we envision further aligning with our strategic priorities.”

Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and director of the CTSI’s Informatics and Research Innovation program, says, “Last year, we sponsored two Learning Healthcare System demonstration projects that have successfully launched and are now providing us with valuable information about using EMR data for research. CTSI’s Informatics and Research Innovation program is working to make data more accessible and usable in research, and projects like these are useful in helping us understand the challenges faced by investigators trying to use EMR data and guide our efforts to build supporting infrastructure.”

Associate Dean for Clinical Innovation and Chief Innovation Officer for UCSF Health, Ralph Gonzales, MD, MSPH, commented,  “The potential for the EMR to become a platform for clinical innovation cannot be overstated.  There is a tremendous opportunity to use it at scale to improve healthcare quality and patient outcomes while reducing costs.  We are thrilled to support the implementation of these projects and are eager to work with our partners to build a pipeline of future Learning Healthcare System enhancements.”