The vision of the Swiss Learning Health System (SLHS) is a health system that is responsive to current and future health needs, where services, programs and policies are based on the best evidence available, where improvement is continuous through ongoing research and implementation, and where infrastructure enables learning processes on all levels of the system.
The mission of the SLHS is to establish mechanisms that support decision-makers in finding and using the best evidence available and, through deliberative dialogue, to engage them to implement change that will strengthen the health system, on all levels and along the continuum of care; to build scientific capacity for the next generation of health researchers; and to develop standards for the management of health information.
Read more: Vision, Mission and Values
LHS Course Program
The Swiss Learning Health System (SLHS) trains research scientists with the ability to understand and conduct high quality research in the intersection of practice, policy and research, which is essential for establishing a successful learning health system.
To this end, the SLHS scientific capacity building program offers short courses by leading international experts in the following areas of expertise:
- Vision of a learning health system
- Health systems and policy
- Evidence-informed policy framework
- Implementation research
- Principles of communication in a LHS
The program is tailored for SLHS PhD students. However, researchers with high interest in the vision of a learning health system can also be admitted to the short courses.
Bridging Research, Policy and Practice
In order to be responsive to current health system needs, the research agenda within the Swiss Learning Health System (SLHS) is developed in strong collaboration with all partners involved. This not only facilitates the seamless flow of information and evidence at the levels of policy, research and practice but it will eventually translate into a continuous learning process that matches the system´s research needs with the appropriate results. In turn a culture of shared responsibility is fostered, creating a learning environment that links all actors in the health system.
As depicted in the graph below, the first step in the learning health system is to identify pressing topics and challenges in the health system, which are defined by the SLHS network and relevant stakeholders. Based on different suggestions a topic list is built which is updated on a regular basis. The topic list forms the basis for the process of issue prioritization.
Once issues have been identified and prioritized, the Operational Unit of the SLHS issues calls for evidence syntheses to which all academic partner institutions can reply and consequently commence with the development of Policy Briefs or Rapid Response Syntheses, which will be distributed to all relevant stakeholders. Whereas policy briefs will be used to inform stakeholders in preparation for the following stakeholder dialogue, rapid response syntheses serve as guiding documents for swift courses of action in cases where response time to current health system needs is limited.
One of the core activities of the SLHS is the organization of Stakeholder Dialogues. Those dialogues aim at bringing together different stakeholders with a vested interest in the topic under discussion. Stakeholder dialogues are a structured communication process that uses a deliberative dialogue during which two or more stakeholders work collaboratively toward a common understanding with the aim to reach agreement on the problem at hand.
The final mechanism of the SLHS monitors the implementation efforts, which are led by the relevant stakeholders. Implementation considerations that were formulated by experts of the SLHS platform either in the evidence syntheses documents or as part of the stakeholder dialogue, will serve as guidance for implementation. The SLHS Operational Unit will support and evaluate implementation efforts. Feedback will be presented back to relevant stakeholders in order to further foster the learning health system cycle.
The conceptual framework for the Swiss Learning Health System (SLHS) is given by the «health systems’ building blocks» as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO [1-3]) and the concept of the «learning health system» of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in the United States [4-6]. Of particular relevance for developing the SLHS mechanisms is the systems thinking approach for health systems strengthening [2,3]. This approach highlights the dynamic architecture and interconnectedness of the health system building blocks and the role of people at the center of the health system, as mediators, beneficiaries, and drivers of the system.
Read more: Health Systems Framework
The Swiss Learning Health System (SLHS) was initiated by overall 10 institutions of higher education at seven different universities and universities of applied sciences across Switzerland. Founding partners include institutes at the University of Lucerne, University of Zurich, Swiss TPH Basel, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, University of Neuchâtel, University of Lugano and University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland.
The Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy at the University of Lucerne promotes research and prepares scientists to work in the field of health and disability from a biopsychosocial perspective. The theoretical framework of the department is rooted in the concept of human functioning, as codified by the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health.
The Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy is also the lead of the Swiss Learning Health System and hosts the SLHS Operational Unit.
The Center for Law and Health at the University of Lucerne has the purpose to connect and develop research and teaching in the field of medical and health law. In particular it aims at fostering scientific cooperation across disciplines and faculty boundaries, as well as educating and promoting young academics.
Since 2002 the Public and Health Care Management unit at the University of Lugano has been conducting basic and applied research, as well as providing for the teaching at graduate and post-graduate levels, with strong focus on public administration (State and Municipal), public enterprises, health care and local social services organisations.
The Swiss Centre for International Health (SCIH) was established in 1997 and is a service department of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). The centre's objective is to strengthen health systems and improve health service delivery – with a particular focus on low and middle income countries. SCIH is a leading provider of global health consulting and project implementation services. It leverages in-house, world class researchers in malaria, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases and One Health, and combines state of the art knowledge with industry consulting standards. Additionally, the centre is a WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Technology Management and eHealth. As such, it provides policy guidance and contributes to capacity building in the fields of health informatics and appropriate health technologies.
The Winterthur Institute of Health Economics at Zurich University of Applied Sciences is a center of competence for economic and business administration issues in the field of health care. The activities of the institute are Health Technology Assessment (HTA), health economic evaluation, health service research, patient classification systems, health policy, strategy and process optimization, market analysis, and integrated care.
The Department of Business Economics, Health and Social Care (DEASS) at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) has the objective of tackling the complex problems of today’s world more effectively, implementing a range of competences that vary in terms of subject area but that have historically displayed a natural tendency toward integration.The department also aims at executing its three mandates (first- and second-level university education, continuing education and research) in order to provide specific input to the interpretation of health, economic and social policy issues in Switzerland, focusing particularly on the challenges and needs of citizens, businesses, organisations and public institutions in the territory.
The Information Management Institute at the University of Neuchâtel is active in all aspects of information management, with emphasis on information representation and knowledge extraction. The different projects are built around the model for information representation called ontology, a key aspect of the semantic web.
The Institute of Physiotherapy at Zurich University of Applied Sciences has a performance mandate in the four areas of academic teaching at bachelor and master level, research and development as well as continuing education and services. It follows the premise of a “Research and Teaching University”.
The institute mainly focuses on physiotherapeutic diagnostics and treatment as well as on physiotherapy in the context of health care. Research priorities are physical activity, supply and implementation research, analysis in the movement laboratory, new technologies as well as research and educational research. The team consists of specialists in physiotherapy, movement science and sports science, psychology and social science, who have broad experience in practice and research at home and abroad.
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Das Institut für Hausarztmedizin an der Universität Zürich hat die Aufgabe, die Studierenden an der medizinischen Fakultät mit der Arbeit und den Aufgaben des Hausarztes, der Hausärztin vertraut zu machen. In der Forschung werden innovative Ansätze in Diagnostik und Therapie untersucht, die darauf abzielen, die Lebensquantität und Lebensqualität von Patienten in der Grundversorgung zu verbessern.
The Center for Comparative Constitutional Law and Religion at the University of Lucerne is specifically dedicated to research, teaching, training and the provision of services in the field of the relationship between law and religion, at the level of national constitutional orders and the international system.