This interactive, three-hour collaborative workshop aims to provide practical guidance about how to engage in strategic problem formulation and subsequently manage multi-disciplinary teams in order to accelerate progress in biomedical, clinical, and population health informatics and health systems research. Intended for all career stages and organizational settings, this year’s hands-on session, which builds on the success of our 2018 workshop, will include focused discussion and engaging exercises on strategic thinking, problem formulation, and how collaborative dynamics inform team science activities.

The benefits of collaborative work are well-documented (Stokols et al., 2019; Gregersen, 2018; Payne et al., 2017; Baer et al., 2012; Disis & Slattery, 2010; Hall et al., 2008). In addition to reducing redundancy, collaborative methodologies can increase the speed, efficiency, and impact of research efforts, particularly when attempting to define and solve complex, systems-level problems. However, enabling collaboration requires novel methods for problem formulation as well as attention to critical governance, infrastructure, technology, stakeholder engagement, and other sociocultural influences, and concerted attention to building synergy, in order to assemble and sustain high-functioning teams. These parameters are interdependent and warrant thoughtful attention. Further, optimal approaches to such issues are often outside the core competencies of many biomedical researchers, requiring an intentional approach to understanding and applying relevant theories and methods.

This session will be organized into three parts. First, presenters will engage in an interactive discussion with attendees, presenting a landscape of initiatives that seek to enable team science, and lessons learned therein, drawn from their collective experiences via AcademyHealth, 2-1-1 San Diego, the CTSA program, and the Health Care Systems Research Network. During the second hour, participants will engage in small group activity and leverage strategic thinking methods to design frameworks for collaborative approaches to research problems at their own institutions or within organizations or networks that they participate in. In the final hour, the group will discuss key lessons learned and takeaways to bring back to their institutions, organizations, or networks.

Learning Objective: After participating in this session, the learner should be better able to:

Explain the emerging culture of team science and collaboration in health research and informatics, including the landscape of current collaborative efforts in informatics and related communities;

Identify cultural and organizational barriers to successful collaboration;

Recognize and apply strategic ideation and problem formulation methods;

Apply basic principles of design thinking to build shared understanding and common structures that can enable durable and sustainable team science constructs;

Articulate how collaboration and sharing across health systems and sectors can enable increased synergy and speed of the flow of information from funded research to policy and practice; and

Identify appropriate and innovative strategies for collaborating within and across institutions or stakeholder groups.


Margo Edmunds (Presenter)

Beth Johnson (Presenter)
2-1-1 San Diego

Philip Payne (Presenter)
Washington University in St. Louis

Sarah Greene (Presenter)
Health Care Systems Research Network

Presentation Materials: