July 23, 2024
VUMC establishes Realizing Accelerated Progress, Investigation, Implementation, and Dissemination in Learning Health Systems (RAPID-LHS) Center | VUMC Reporter


Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been awarded a $5 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to establish a multidisciplinary center focused on training scientists and supporting research to minimize gaps between the generation of clinical evidence, implementation of proven interventions and development of informed public health policy.

VUMC establishes Realizing Accelerated Progress, Investigation, Implementation, and Dissemination in Learning Health Systems (RAPID-LHS) Center | VUMC Reporter
Christianne Roumie, MD, MPH

The new Realizing Accelerated Progress, Investigation, Implementation, and Dissemination in Learning Health Systems (RAPID-LHS) Center at VUMC will be led by principal investigators Christianne Roumie, MD, MPH, Peter Embí, MD, MS, and Russell Rothman, MD, MPP. The Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health, directed by Rothman, will provide additional center support.

A learning health system (LHS) is a health system in which internal data and experience are systematically integrated with external evidence, and that knowledge is applied to practice to improve the population’s health. LHS scientists collaborate with health system leaders and key stakeholders to produce novel insights and evidence that can be rapidly implemented to improve the health outcomes of individuals and populations, as well as improve health system performance.

Peter Embí, MD, MS

“The RAPID-LHS Center will strengthen VUMC’s leadership in learning health systems science,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, VUMC Chief Scientific and Strategy Officer. “VUMC provides a unique environment with a wealth of talented investigators, clinicians and trainees, as well as extensive infrastructure and resources to support innovative research and the smart implementation of evidence-based practice improvements. The RAPID-LHS Center will further support and accelerate this progress while also training junior faculty in these skills.”

VUMC is one of 16 health systems in the United States receiving funding to create Learning Health System Embedded Scientist Training and Research (LHS E-STaR) Centers. This AHRQ and PCORI program includes an investment of up to $80 million over the next five years. These centers will develop shared resources and facilities for research, support the training of the next generation of learning health system scientists, and support patient-centered outcomes research and the dissemination, implementation and use of research findings.

Russell Rothman, MD, MPP

“AHRQ and PCORI are training a new cadre of learning health system scientists. Health care systems and their providers will use these scientists’ evidence to advance care as quickly, broadly and equitably as possible,” said AHRQ Director Robert Otto Valdez, PhD, MHSA. “Our organizations are following through on our commitment to support learning health systems such as Vanderbilt University Medical Center by helping to train this new group of scientists. That investment is expected to pay off many times over in new knowledge generated and better treatments delivered to patients.”

Through this joint initiative, AHRQ and PCORI are following through on mutual commitments to support learning health systems.

“Learning health systems are committed to providing patients with higher quality, safer, equitable and more efficient care by applying evidence from research to promote innovation and systems change,” said PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH. “These efforts are advanced when health systems employ people with the skills to explore relevant evidence and produce insights that can be implemented in routine practice to improve care.”

The new award builds on the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) Learning Health System Program and other research initiatives, as well as a well-established learning health system T32 training program at VUMC, PROgRESS, the Patient/pRactice Outcomes and Research in Effectiveness and Systems, also funded by AHRQ.

Since 2018, PROgRESS and the AHRQ-funded Learning Health Systems Scholars K12 program at VUMC have provided cross-training in patient-centered outcomes research, implementation science and health policy/community health to postdoctoral health care professionals.

“Medical knowledge is expanding rapidly, and a systemic, collaborative effort such as this Center is required to transfer that knowledge rapidly, efficiently and safely to improve health care delivery and patient care,” said Rothman, the Ingram Professor of Integrative and Population Health and VUMC Senior Vice President for Population and Public Health. “Biomedical knowledge that is often trapped in the pages of academic journals benefits no one. We’re excited that, through the addition of the RAPID-LHS Center, scientists and clinicians will continue to expand the LHS paradigm to bring evidence into practice and to test innovative approaches to care to improve our system structures to achieve better patient, provider and health system outcomes.”

The new center will formally train five junior faculty RAPID-LHS scientists in the best methods for engaging and improving the learning health system. RAPID-LHS scientists will conduct embedded projects in academic or community-based health systems that focus on patient-centered outcomes research, dissemination and implementation science, health policy and public health, stakeholder engagement and health equity, and methods advancement.

All projects will align with health system priorities. In addition, projects will address potential impacts on health equity and use the health equity lens to mitigate any unintended consequences of interventions on health disparities, Roumie noted.

RAPID-LHS methodology cores in these focus areas will be led by Rothman, Sunil Kripalani, MD, MSc, David Stevenson, PhD, Velma McBride Murry, PhD, and Embí. A research and education core will be led by Roumie.

“In cross-training scientists and embedding them in our health system, scientists and mentors across disciplines will work together and demonstrate team science that is integral to the success of LHS,” said Roumie, professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Health Policy at VUMC. “The RAPID-LHS Center will teach the practical benefits of interdisciplinary research in advancing health, leading to a high reliability and supportive health care system that applies scientific knowledge in the care of patients.”

Faculty can receive up to two years of support as a RAPID-LHS Operational Scientist or a RAPID-LHS Academic Research Scientist. Didactic and experiential learning will be guided by the RAPID-LHS Center leadership and methodology core faculty and by an individualized mentorship team.

“Team-based approaches are critical to enabling learning health systems that generate actionable evidence and translate that evidence into practice,” said Embí, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI), professor of Medicine, and Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at VUMC. “The RAPID-LHS Center will include team members from a diverse pool of scientists and practitioners from VUMC and partner health systems including Meharry Medical College, Veterans Administration, Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network, safety net clinics and the Stakeholders, Technology and Research (STAR) Clinical Research Network (CRN).”

The grant application was supported by the Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health, with contributions from staff members Jennifer Barrett, PhD, and Robyn Tamboli, PhD, and grants manager Suellen Sachariat.

The RAPID-LHS Center is supported by P30HS029767.

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