W23 – Learning Health Systems: What Are They and Why Do Psychiatrists Need to Know?

W23 – Learning Health Systems: What Are They and Why Do Psychiatrists Need to Know?

Friday, Oct. 20
15:45 – 16:45 (1 hr)
Meeting Room: Beluga (3rd floor – B Tower)
Alison Freeland*, MD, FRCPC; Gary Chaimowitz, MD FRCPC; Alison Freeland, MD

CanMEDS Roles:

  1. Collaborator
  2. Health Advocate
  3. Scholar

At the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) Explain what a learning health system is and how it can effect mental health system transformation; 2) Understand how psychiatrists can, and why they should, contribute to learning health system work; and 3) Appreciate the need for rapid mental health system transformation within Canada.

Mental health care systems are under pressure due to increased demand for access, escalating costs, health human resource shortages, and fragmented services. New approaches are needed to effect the system transformation to address these challenges. One such approach is the learning health system (LHS), which differs from traditional research that can take years to complete and deliver results to support system change. Instead, the LHS model leverages available population health data and health system informatics; creates partnerships among researchers, clinicians, patients, and families; ensures alignment with research, clinical priorities, and community need; and drives ideas and innovation to achieve system transformation.
Psychiatrists are essential to mental health care and, as such, must continue to adapt their skills and knowledge to ensure their continued contributions and leadership in evolving health system transformation. This includes understanding all elements of an LHS, including concepts of population health, big data and informatics in evolving health services methodologies; how to effectively collaborate with researchers and implementation scientists; and partnering with patients to co-design new ways to develop mental health care services.
This workshop introduces how LHS can evolve and transform mental health service delivery and discuss the role of psychiatrists within an LHS and the importance of this to the future of psychiatry.


  1. Tepper MC, Ward MC, Aldis R, et al. Toward population health: using a learning behavioral health system and measurement-based care to improve access, care, outcomes, and disparities. Community Ment Health J 2022;58(8):1428–1436.
  2. Greene SM, Reid RJ, Larson EB. Implementing the learning health system: from concept to action. Ann Intern Med 2012;157(3):207–210.