America's health care system has become far too complex and costly to continue business as usual. Pervasive inefficiencies, an inability to manage a rapidly deepening clinical knowledge base, and a reward system poorly focused on key patient needs, all hinder improvements in the safety and quality of care and threaten the nation's economic stability and global competitiveness. Achieving higher quality care at lower cost will require fundamental commitments to the incentives, culture, and leadership that foster continuous "learning”, as the lessons from research and each care experience are systematically captured, assessed, and translated into reliable care.
In the face of these realities, the IOM convened the Committee on the Learning Health Care System in America to explore these central challenges to health care today. The product of the committee’s deliberations, Best Care at Lower Cost, identifies three
major imperatives for change: the rising complexity of modern health care, unsustainable cost increases, and outcomes below the system’s potential. But it also points out that emerging tools like computing power, connectivity, team-based care, and systems engineering techniques—tools that were previously unavailable—make the envisioned transition possible, and are already being put to successful use in pioneering health care organizations. Applying these new strategies can support the transition to a continuously learning health system, one that aligns science and informatics, patient-clinician partnerships, incentives, and a culture of continuous improvement to produce the best care at lower cost. The report’s recommendations speak to the many stakeholders in the health care system and outline the concerted actions necessary across all sectors to achieve the needed transformation.