A brief interview with Didi Thompson
Q: For the uninitiated, explain what is LHSN?
Didi Thompson: LHSN, the Leading Health Systems Network is a group of health systems and healthcare leaders from around the world who come together to learn from each other, compare performance, and identify programs and areas where they can improve the health of the populations they serve.
Q: And what is the relationship between LHSN and WISH? How did LHSN launch?
Didi Thompson: LHSN was launched at WISH 2015 and came on the heels of patient safety report that was presented at that summit. We have been working for the last year and a half, on patient safety and pushing that work forward.
Q: Why does LHSN matter? Why is it important?
Didi Thompson: I think it’s important because it gives leaders and frontline workers an opportunity to take a step back from their day-to-day work and take the opportunity to learn from others and identify areas they can improve. For the most part, people can get so bogged down in their busy day to day schedule, that they can be a bit navel gazing. So LHSN just gives them an easy way to see what people are doing across the world.
Q: And so tell me how it actually works, LHSN so it’s different healthcare systems that are learning from each other, how does that work in a practical way and what are some of the things that health systems have learned from each other
Didi Thompson: In a practical way, we try to bring together representatives from different healthcare systems on joint conference calls, usually once a month, and hopefully bring them all together at the WISH conference. We also hold monthly webinars where they have a chance to interact with each other and with experts from the wider WISH community and can take back lessons that they learn from there. Our most recent work has been on information for patient safety and we are in the midst of finalizing that report now. We will be presenting our findings at the upcoming summit in November. This report will give people an opportunity to see how other health systems measure patient safety, because for the most part it’s not as simple as it may seem. Due to multiple information sources, LHSN has really given people an opportunity to see the specific metrics that other health systems look at and also given them a little bit of time for self-reflection to see why they measure what they measure.
Q: Could you speak about some concrete case studies or examples of where some of the learnings from LHSN have been applied?
Didi Thompson: In a previous piece of work that we did around colorectal cancer, we had five systems come together and look across the entire pathway from primary prevention all the way down to end of life care. This gave them the opportunity to see where they are performing in terms of outcomes as well as costs for those five systems. One of the systems identified an area where they were underperforming which was around the time from diagnosis to colonoscopy and they were able to use the work as a basis to go back and reconfigure their colonoscopy services to better serve the population.
Q: And what is it for you personally that makes you care about this work? And what draws you into this area of research?
Didi Thompson: I think there is always the allure of being able to figure out what everyone else is doing. Healthcare can be a bit slow to change, as we all know. Just having the opportunity to access a wonderful network of experts more widely but also people that are passionate about improving healthcare within their own systems is really how LHSN works. It drives us forward to have strong champions within each of the organizations that we work with. These are really just very dedicated and passionate about international collaboration and learning.
Q: And tell me about some nice things about WISH, so how has WISH enabled and facilitated this research, how does WISH elevate it to a global scale?
Didi Thompson: Being able to tap into the wider WISH network is amazing. We’ve gotten some of our webinar speakers from the wider WISH network. That’s how we were introduced to Peter Pronovost and that really formed the basis of all the patient safety work that we are doing. The fact that we have the WISH summit, which, as you know, reaches 90 plus countries, to have health ministers be able to hear about our work and also engage with it, has really helped us as well.