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Making the Transition to a Learning Health Care System


  • Christine Grady,

  • David Wendler

  • Christine Grady and David Wendler, “Making the Transition to a Learning Health Care System,” Ethical Oversight of Learning Health Care Systems


The authors of the two main articles in this supplement recognize the enormous potential of learning health care systems. Their first article argues that the development of these systems calls into question existing guidelines and practices that treat clinical care and clinical research as distinct activities. Their second article proposes to replace this traditional approach with a new framework, one intended to promote two important goals: support the transformation to a learning health care system and help to ensure the ethical appropriateness of the activities carried out within such a system. To promote these goals, the authors propose a framework consisting of seven obligations. The authors are aware that their framework does not provide much guidance for promoting their second goal. At first glance, the seven obligations also might appear to offer little in the way of promoting the first goal. In what way, then, is the proposed framework novel and transformative, as the authors claim? The answer appears to lie largely in how the authors interpret the sixth obligation in the framework—the obligation to conduct learning activities.