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Kari Nelson
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October 25, 2022

Learning Health Systems Model

Dr. Karin Nelson talked to Collective Conversations about the Learning Health Systems Model, where you systematically integrate internal data, clinical experience with external data.
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Clinical Faculty

Collective Conversations

Collective Conversations is a series of discussions aimed at highlighting people and groups working to improve health through better health care systems.

Dr. Kari Nelson is the Director of the Primary Care Analytics Team (PCAT) for the Veterans Health Administration Office of Primary Care. She recently sat down with Collective Conversations to explain the Learning Health Systems Model. 

"The Learning Health Systems model is one where you systematically integrate internal data, clinical experience with external evidence. And then you try to put that resulting knowledge into practice. And I think where PCAT really tries to put the knowledge into practice is we work really closely with operational leadership and the VA to really try to provide the best evidence that we can to operational leaders about improving primary care for veteran patients. And that’s really our vision for PCAT. And then within that, we have a lot of different functions."

The VA has over 5 million veterans in primary care across the national system of over 100 clinics. PCAT's work within the Learning Health System fits within the strategic priority areas of the Office of Primary Care, which are fidelity to a team-based model. The second priority area is high-risk patient care. And then the third priority area is virtual care. Their work involves program evaluation, program planning, developing new measures and databases, and evidence synthesis. 



Karin (Kari) Nelson, MD, MSHS, is a general internist and health services researcher at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. She is a Professor of Medicine in the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine, Adjunct Professor in the UW School of Public Health and core investigator at the Seattle Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) Center of Innovation (COIN).

Dr. Nelson is the director of the Primary Care Analytics Team (PCAT) for the VHA’s Office of Primary Care. She won the 2015 VHA HSR&D’s Best Research Paper of the Year Award for Nelson, et al. “Implementation of the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)” published in JAMA Internal Medicine. She actively mentors many junior faculty and is past Co-Director for the MD fellowship program in the Seattle HSR&D COIN. She is a primary care physician at the VA Puget Sound.