PDF icon Download (1.18 MB)



Learning health systems have been gaining traction over the past decade. The purpose of this study was to understand the spread of learning health systems in primary care, including where they have been implemented, how they are operating, and potential challenges and solutions.


We completed a scoping review by systematically searching OVID Medline®, Embase®, IEEE Xplore®, and reviewing specific journals from 2007 to 2020. We also completed a Google search to identify gray literature.


We reviewed 1924 articles through our database search and 51 articles from other sources, from which we identified 21 unique learning health systems based on 62 data sources. Only one of these learning health systems was implemented exclusively in a primary care setting, where all others were integrated health systems or networks that also included other care settings. Eighteen of the 21 were in the United States. Examples of how these learning health systems were being used included real-time clinical surveillance, quality improvement initiatives, pragmatic trials at the point of care, and decision support. Many challenges and potential solutions were identified regarding data, sustainability, promoting a learning culture, prioritization processes, involvement of community, and balancing qualityimprovement versus research.


We identified 21 learning health systems, which all appear at an early stage of development, and only one was primary care only. We summarized and provided examples of integrated health systems and data networks that can be considered early models in the growing global movement to advance learning health systems in primary care.


Learning health systems, Primary care, Family medicine, Systematic review, Scoping review, Health systems improvement, Health systems research, Healthcare delivery, Quality of care