Blog: THIS.Institute aims to improve healthcare through evidence

Jonathon Gray, CEO of the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN), attended the opening of THIS.Institute in Cambridge on 31 January 2018. He reports back on how this new organisation will strengthen the evidence-base for improving healthcare.

What a wonderful, inspiring and optimistic evening! I was fortunate to attend the opening of the THIS institute, funded by the Health Foundation and led by Mary Dixon-Woods. What a powerful cocktail!

Based in Cambridge, The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute – to give its full title – has a big ambition: to tackle some of the fundamental challenges that trouble all of us striving to support and lead improvement. It aims to do this by focusing on how we can strengthen the evidence-base for improving healthcare.

The evening’s speakers reflected the expansive thinking that sits behind this venture:

Elizabeth O'Riordan, a breast surgeon and breast cancer survivor
  • Elizabeth O’Riordan (@liz_ORiordan), a breast surgeon and breast cancer survivor, shared her experience of life on both sides of the scalpel.
  • Paul Batalden, Emeritus Professor at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medcine, and one of the nicest, most humble giants of the field, was nice enough to make it seem like he remembered me from 15 years ago.
  • Menagerie Theatre Company gave the world premiere of Not Quite Right, a fabulous if uncomfortable view of a family’s interaction with our health system.

There was the opportunity to catch up with great colleagues, some new and others whom we are lucky enough to know already. Here are just a few to share what they are bravely leading:

  • Tom Downes, a wonderful leader of improvement and ‘building the future from within’. Check out his Microsystem Coaching – and I hear we are fortunate to have our very own Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital as one of the national hubs. Well done!
  • It was also great to catch up with Helen Bevan, NHS Chief Transformations Officer. I’m looking forward to learning more with Helen’s help about exploring spread and large-scale change.
  • What a joy to meet an old friend and colleague. Alan Willson, the Campaign Director for 1,000 Lives Wales. He continues the great work in Wales.

So many amazing people. Even though times are incredibly tough, I can’t help feeling real optimism when I see these minds, ideas and passion united in support of the wonderful treasure that is our NHS.

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