Networked health care: Rethinking value creation in learning health care systems

Learn Health Syst. 2019 Dec 5;4(2):e10212. doi: 10.1002/lrh2.10212. eCollection 2020 Apr.

Abstract

Creating better value in health care service today is very challenging. The social pressure to do so is real for every health care system and its leadership. Real benefit has been achieved in manufacturing sector work by the use of "value-chain" thinking, which assumes that the work is a series of linked processes necessary to make a product. For those activities in health care systems that are similar, this model may be very helpful. Attempts to "install" the value chain widely in health care systems have, however, been frustrating. As a result, well-meaning leaders seeking better value have resorted to programs of cost reduction, rather than service redesign. Professionals have not been very happy or willing participants. The work of health care service invites an expanded model of value creation, one that better matches the work. This paper proposes a networked architecture that can mobilize and integrate the resources of health care professionals, interested patients, family, and other community members in the delivery and improvement of health care systems. It also suggests how this value-creation architecture might contribute to research and the development of new knowledge. Two cases illustrate the proposed architecture and its implications for system design and practice, technology development, and roles and responsibilities of all actors involved in health care systems. We believe that this model better fits the need of making and improving health care services. This expanded understanding of how value is created invites attention by senior leaders, by those attempting to facilitate the improvement of current systems, by patients and clinicians involved in the daily work of health care service coproduction, by those charged with the preparation and formation of future professionals, by those who measure and conduct research in health care services, and by those leading policy, payment, and reimbursement systems.

Keywords: learning health systems; organizational architecture; value in health care.