Accelerating learning healthcare system development through embedded research: Career trajectories, training needs, and strategies for managing and supporting embedded researchers

Healthc (Amst). 2021 Jun:8 Suppl 1:100479. doi: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2020.100479. Epub 2021 Jun 23.


Background: Health systems and organizations seeking to achieve learning healthcare system principles are increasingly relying on embedded research teams to optimize delivery of evidence-based, high-quality care that improves patient and staff experience alike. However, building organizational capacity to conduct and benefit from embedded research may be challenging in the absence of clearer guidance on career pathways and training, as well as strategies for managing and supporting this unique workforce.

Methods: In February 2018, 115 attendees from multiple agencies, institutions and professional societies participated in a conference to accelerate development of learning healthcare systems through embedded research. Workgroups engaged in structured brainstorming discussions of key domains; 21 diverse members focused on strengthening the embedded research community through more explicit development and support of multilevel career trajectories.

Results: Emphasis emerged on the need for training that goes beyond traditional curricula in rigorous scientific methods to include leadership, communication, and other organizational and business skills rarely offered in research training programs. These skills are required for effective engagement of multilevel stakeholders supporting evidence-based changes in routine care. Improving readiness of other stakeholders to effectively act on evidence was noted as equally crucial, as was creation of mid-career development opportunities for researchers and implementers.

Conclusions: Further development and support of the embedded research workforce will require explicit attention to novel training programs and support of researchers and the stakeholders in the systems they aim to improve.

Implications: Strategies for improving career entry and mastery of skills that foster effective multilevel stakeholder engagement hold promise for strengthening the embedded research community and their contributions to systematic improvements in health and health care.

Keywords: Career development; Embedded research; Health services research; Health systems improvement; Learning healthcare system; Program evaluation.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Learning Health System*
  • Research Personnel
  • Workforce