Health systems are undergoing rapid changes in information technology and the development of new clinical innovations. However, implementing these changes within healthcare systems can be complex. Even a process seemingly as simple as a hospital discharge involves multiple doctors, nurses, caregiver staff hand-offs, and more. Changes are needed for patients to see more benefits from new technologies and innovations.

A $3.7 million grant to UCLA and three other Southern California health systems aims to help change that. The five-year award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute funds a Center of Excellence in Learning Health Systems. To be called the SPIRIT K12 program, the efforts will support young scientists who will study how to rapidly evaluate and implement these changes to benefit patients.

The four participating health systems — Kaiser Permanente Southern California, the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and UCLA — will be aiming to accelerate their transformation into “learning health systems.” The National Academy of Medicine describes such systems as those that integrate science, data processing, patient-physician interaction, various incentives and continuous improvement to produce the best care at lower cost.

“Learning health systems, through their rapid assessment and implementation of new innovations, ensure that patients receive high quality, safe and efficient care,” said Dr. Michael Ong, co-director of the SPIRIT K12 program and a professor-in-residence of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

This grant is part of $40 million that the Agency for Healthcare Research and the outcomes research institute have provided to 11 institutions to support patient-centered research.