Dr. Marissa Bird, a Learning Health System Scientist at the Institute for Better Health (IBH), is the recipient of a Health System Impact Early Career Researcher Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) – a four-year award that supports early career researchers as they develop roles and programs that advance the methods of embedded research, build embedded research capacity within health system organizations and mentor emerging embedded researchers, and generate evidence-informed solutions for high-priority challenges within health system organizations.

Dr. Bird’s funded work, informed by a Learning Health Systems approach, examines the concept of Organizational Ambidexterity and its potential to increase health system capacity to meet the needs of a growing and aging population. “I’m seeking to understand how health systems balance the work of maintaining best practices with innovating for better outcomes,” says Dr. Bird. “Understanding this paradox is central to Trillium Health Partners’ [THP] mission of creating a new kind of healthcare for a healthier community, which requires that individuals and teams think, work, and partner differently – both with each other and with the communities we serve.”

The concept of Organizational Ambidexterity allows organizations to balance their innovation efforts with sustaining existing pockets of excellence so that we create better health together in an evidence-based way. The work supports building internal capacity for sustainable innovation at THP by identifying what ambidextrous capabilities look like in practice and the context(s) in which they lead to better outcomes.

Dr. Bird is a recognized scholar in the fields of health innovation, Learning Health Systems, co-design and evaluation. Her program of work focuses on creating sustainable innovation in health care environments by optimizing the sustainability of innovations within Learning Health Systems, as well as supporting the health system to transform toward sustainability. Particular interests within this field include cultivating Organizational Ambidexterity within the Learning Health System; studying the intersection of leadership and innovation; and working in the fields of innovation co-design and evaluation to support learning and sustainability. Dr. Bird is supported in this work by a mentorship team of leaders at IBH and THP, including Drs. Walter Wodchis, Laura Desveaux, and Dante Morra.

We need innovative and dynamic health research to drive change in health care. Recognition and funding from CIHR provides opportunities for embedding a Learning Health Systems approach at THP and in the community. Dr. Bird is shaping the future of health care, making it more innovative, equitable, accessible and sustainable to improve health outcomes for everyone.

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