Learning Health System

Women’s College Hospital is on the journey to becoming a Learning Health System (LHS). This is a model in which we will foster a culture of curiosity and engagement where everyone at the organization is continuously asking thoughtful questions about our current processes, delivery, and outcomes, to determine if and where we are adding value and then to assess how we can work together to effect improvements.

Illustration of people in a clinic waiting room

What is a Learning Health System?

Did you know that on average, it takes about 17 years for research findings to be implemented into clinical practice? A learning health system involves the use of feedback and data to make improvements to patient care in real-time – not years from now.

An LHS embodies the integration between research, clinical care, operations, and the community where everyone is engaging in research and quality improvement. This fosters continual improvement and learning across all programs, centers, and institutes, with the aim of impacting positive change for the best possible patient care.

The four building blocks to a learning health system are that:

  1. It is patient-centered, focusing on individuals, families, and communities;
  2. It is data and evidence driven;
  3. It is fully supported and enabled by the organizational structure; and
  4. It takes place within a culture of ongoing rapid learning and continual improvement.

To achieve a learning health system, an entire organization – people, patients, and infrastructure – all need to be aligned.


Below you will find a list of helpful resources that describe national and international examples of LHS’ in development and stories of successful LHS implementations.

LHS Seminar Series

Another great way to learn about an LHS is by attending one of our monthly virtual seminars! This is an opportunity for speakers from across the globe to share their experience with an LHS, the value-add, and how it has influenced the way they conduct their work.

For information about upcoming seminars, please visit our events page.

The role of the LHS Steering Committee is to support the execution of the vision, goals, and mandate of WCH in building a Learning Health System (LHS). Meetings occur every 4-6 weeks, between September to June.


To foster a culture of curiosity and engagement where everyone in WCH is continuously asking questions about our current processes, delivery, and outcomes, to determine if and where we’re adding value and then to assess how we can work together to effect improvements.​


  1. Develop a consensus and common vision of LHS across WCH through engagement from various partners and community members;
  2. Build the Learning Health System Collaboratory, which will serve to plan, implement, evaluate and sustain the LHS model; and
  3. Establish the building blocks for an LHS, including hospital infrastructure and change management processes.


  • Chairs
    • Dr. Rulan S. Parekh MD, MSc (Vice-President, Academics; Staff Nephrologist; Professor, Department of Medicine, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto)
  • Members
    • Dr. Onil Bhattacharyya MD, PhD (Family Physician; Frigon Blau Chair in Family Medicine Research; Director of the Institute for Health Systems Solutions and Virtual Care)
    • Dr. Noah Ivers MD, PhD (Family Physician and Clinician Scientist; Canada Research Chair, Implementation of Evidence-based Practice)
    • Theresa Kay (Director, Professional Practice)
    • Celia Laur (Implementation Scientist and Health Services Researcher)
    • Chandra Farrer (Quality Manager, Quality, Safety and Patient Experience)
    • Elaine Goulbourne (Clinical Director, Primary Care and the Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers)
    • Sandra Grgas (Clinical Director, Specialized Medicine & Mental Health)

Note: We will be engaging community members with lived experience on this Steering Committee and are in the process of identifying these partners. Please see our page on Patient and Community Engagement for more details.

A timeline of the Learning Health System development at WCH over the next 5 years (2023-2028).

September 2021

New Vice-President, Academics

July 2022

Academic Restructuring

New Academic Patient & Community Engagement Lead
New Education Scientist

October 2022

New Manager, Learning Health System (LHS)

January 2023

Academic Strategy Development

April 2023

Build Strategy and Roadmap

August 2023

Established Steering Committee

December 2023

Begin pilot projects to address internal and external system improvements​

January 2024

Develop LHS Patient Engagement Strategy

April 2024
& onwards

Building Out LHS Collaboratory

– Scope out resources​
– Research expertise​
– Training & Education​
– Knowledge Translation & Dissemination​
– Data & Governance​
– Patient & Community Engagement

Updates coming soon.