My work is driven by the need for radical change in health care, the importance of evidence, and a deep respect for the working-class community I grew up in
The work that you see on this website began in 2013 while I was the Physician Editor of TEDMED, TED’s dedicated health event. Although the event sought to showcase ‘big ideas’ on the future of health, I was left convinced that very little of it would have much impact on the working-class community I grew up in.
Prior to working with TEDMED, I was a medical editor and publisher, and a practicing doctor.
I trained as a medical editor at The BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal) and honed my skills at BioMed Central, the company that proved open access publishing was commercially viable. BioMed Central’s achievements continue to disrupt academic publishing and I am proud to have served as its Editorial Director for Medicine.
After BioMed Central, I ran the company that created ‘Faculty of 1000 Medicine’, the service that identified the tiny number of research articles that matter from the thousands published each week. The simple truth is that most medical research is scandalously poor and it takes discerning experts to spot the few articles that truly add to our knowledge. We recruited about 2400 such experts.
My interest has always been in using evidence to influence practice, so after Faculty of 1000 Medicine I moved into clinical improvement as the Medical Director of Map of Medicine. The ‘map’ was a set of evidence-based pathways illustrating the best care for the conditions most often seen in hospital. Although I loved the role, I was fascinated by how little sway evidence has over the delivery of health care.
I left Map of Medicine to become a consultant in the emerging digital health scene. It was in that role that I came to the attention of TEDMED whose leaders were looking for a doctor that understood evidence, technology and innovation.
On the basis of my observation of the ‘big ideas’ at TEDMED, I set out to find projects that started from a community’s understanding of its health. My writing about them eventually led me to founding the Creating Health Collaborative, a highly curated meeting of community-oriented practitioners. Through the Collaborative, I discerned a set of 12 practice-based principles for how to build a bridge between the health sector and communities.
Some of the members of the Collaborative pointed out that the principles described an inclusive and participatory process, one that had the potential to foster the agency of individuals and communities. In parallel, learned that agency is often a synonym for power or control, and that these things are core to health.
I then co-founded Bridging Health & Community, Inc., a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to helping health care better connect with communities. Although we had some success, such as a national symposium and some research into community power, we closed the company after two years.
Since then – and informed by the perspective I have developed through my work – I’ve been an independent consultant on the link between community power and health. Through my ongoing work I have learnt that community power is not only fundamental to health but also key to structural change and health equity.
I also still work in medical editing and publishing. When I first became a consultant, my clients were digital start-ups wanting to ‘get into health’ and traditional publishers wanting to ‘get digital’. These days my clients are varied because the Internet has made it possible for anyone to be a publisher. However, they all have two things in common – they want to write high-quality articles and a strategy for their publishing and promotion.
If you’d like to explore how I can help in your work, please contact me.
A note on language. This site is a mixture of English and US English. That’s because the primary audiences for my projects have differed; sometimes they’ve been in the UK, sometimes they’ve been in the US. I’ll keep switching between languages based on the primary audience for the project. And when the primary audience is not clear, I’ll default to English.