Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Type and use of digital technology in learning health systems: a scoping review protocol
  1. Lysanne Lessard1,2,
  2. Agnes Grudniewicz1,2,
  3. Antoine Sauré1,
  4. Agnieszka Szczotka3,
  5. James King4,
  6. Michael Fung-Kee-Fung5,6
  1. 1 Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Institut du Savoir Montfort - Research, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  5. 5 Departments of Obstetrics-Gynaecology and Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  6. 6 The Ottawa Hospital – General Campus, University of Ottawa/Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Lysanne Lessard; lessard{at}


Introduction Health systems in North America and Europe have been criticised for their lack of safety, efficiency and effectiveness despite rising healthcare costs. In response, healthcare leaders and researchers have articulated the need to transform current health systems into continuously and rapidly learning health systems (LHSs). While digital technology has been envisioned as providing the transformational power for LHSs by generating timely evidence and supporting best care practices, it remains to be ascertained if it is indeed playing this role in current LHS initiatives. This paper presents a protocol for a scoping review that aims at providing a comprehensive understanding of how and to what extent digital technology is used within LHSs. Results will help to identify gaps in the literature as a means to guide future research on this topic.

Methods and analysis Multiple databases and grey literature will be searched with terms related to learning health systems. Records selection will be done in duplicate by two reviewers applying pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data extraction from selected records will be done by two reviewers using a piloted data charting form. Results will be synthesised through a descriptive numerical summary and a mapping of digital technology use onto types of LHSs and phases of learning within LHSs.

Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval is not required for this scoping review. Preliminary results will be shared with stakeholders to account for their perspectives when drawing conclusions. Final results will be disseminated through presentations at relevant conferences and publications in peer-reviewed journals.

  • digital technology
  • learning health systems
  • scoping review

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors LL, AG and AS conceived the study. LL drafted the manuscript and is its guarantor. LL, AG, AS, MF-K-F and JK contributed to the protocol design and plan. ASz developed and tested the search strategy. All the authors worked collaboratively to revise the manuscript, and read and approved the final version. All the authors made substantive intellectual contributions to the development of this protocol.

  • Funding This work was supported by a research grant from the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa. This funding will support the search, selection and data charting processes of the review. The Telfer School of Management is not involved in any other aspect of the project, such as the design of the project’s protocol and data collection and analysis. The funder will have no input on the interpretation or publication of the study results.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.