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Lynn M. Etheredge

Health Care Innovator, Founding Academy Member, and Advisor to the Academy’s Study Panel on Strengthening Medicaid as a Critical Lever in Building a Culture of Health

Lynn Etheredge, a founding member of the Academy, currently heads the Rapid Learning Project, which harnesses the power of big data to help medical practitioners offer individualized treatment to patients. He also acts as an advisor on the Academy’s study panel on Strengthening Medicaid as a Critical Lever in Building a Culture of Health.

A vigorous proponent of the benefits of health information technology, Etheredge was the first to propose the concept of the “rapid-learning health system” in a special issue of Health Affairs in 2007, a “rapid learning cancer system” in 2009, and a “science of learning system” (for a National Science Foundation project) in 2013 and is collaborating widely in developing these initiatives. Etheredge’s efforts to expand health information technology aims to improve the lives of millions through both private- and public-sector initiatives, by using electronic health record databases from millions of people to fill major knowledge gaps about health care costs, the benefits and risks of drugs and procedures, geographic variations, environmental health influences, the health of special populations, and medicine personalization.

In addition to his significant contributions to the advancement of health information technology, Etheredge has been involved in initiatives to cover the uninsured for over four decades, in key federal staff positions and, more recently, through non-partisan work to achieve legislation. From 2005-2007, Etheredge spearheaded a two-year project that designed a federal-state administrative system for Medicaid and tax credits that was adopted in the recent health reform legislation to cover 32 million persons. In the 1990s he was one of the principal architects of “managed competition” proposals for healthcare reforms to address quality and cost issues using integrated delivery systems, government regulation and economic incentives. He served with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in senior career executive and staff positions, during four administrations. As chief of OMB's professional health staff, his responsibilities involved policy development and budgeting for the national health research and financing programs, as well as national health insurance coverage proposals.

“Lynn has worked tirelessly to improve the effectiveness of Medicare and Medicaid and to advance health care innovation more broadly,” said Benjamin Veghte, Vice President for Policy at the Academy. “He has a profound understanding of a range of key issues affecting our social insurance programs and is a leader in the area of health information technology. Lynn pioneered and popularized the concept of a rapid-learning health system, which leverages electronic health records to determine which technologies, drugs, and procedures are most effective.  Rapid learning is now being adopted by Medicare and Medicaid, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Science Foundation. Currently, Lynn is making invaluable contributions to the Academy’s Study Panel on Strengthening Medicaid as a Critical Lever in Building a Culture of Health.”

Etheredge serves on the editorial board of Health Affairs and the Journal of Learning Health Sciences and is the author of more than 85 publications. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College.