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Global Collaborative Healthcare - Publisher’s Letter

Summer 2014

Publisher’s Letter

Date: June 20, 2014

Getting on the Map


Steven J. Thompson
Steven J. Thompson

When I first entered the field of global collaborative health care on behalf of Johns Hopkins Medicine nearly 20 years ago, it wasn’t really a field.

It was more of an offbeat experiment to test a vague notion: that a U.S. academic medical center could collaborate with a health care delivery system in another country to produce sustainable improvements in the quality, accessibility and safety of care there.

In fact, it was this notion that led us to create Johns Hopkins Medicine International—a division focused on expanding Johns Hopkins Medicine’s patient care, research and academic mission globally.

We learned a lot from our initial activities. Like many of our fellow academic medical centers in the U.S. and Europe, we quickly found out that global collaborative health care is a lot trickier than simply transporting what we do in our home base to another location. A lot trickier. But we stuck with it, as have others, and today—as you’ll read about in this premier issue of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Global Collaborative Healthcare, efforts to sustainably improve health care systems via international collaboration compose a thriving and rapidly growing sub-industry of health care.

So just what is this field we call global collaborative health care? It usually involves collaboration across borders, typically involves a U.S. or European academic medical center working with health care system players in less-highly industrialized countries (for current lack of a better term), and most of the time aims to build or improve hospitals or other aspects of health care infrastructure.

One thing the field isn’t really about is “medical tourism.” It’s true that many patients need to travel to obtain a type or a quality of health care that isn’t available to them locally, and like most large academic medical centers, we at Johns Hopkins Medicine do everything we can to make it easier for such patients to access our care.

But we and our counterparts in the field are dedicated to the notion that all people deserve high-quality care that’s local—so that they can be near loved ones and friends during treatment and recovery, and avoid the costs and burden of travel during a stressful time. We know that there is a long road ahead in arriving at that goal. That raises the importance of a publication like this to tell the stories of progress and share the lessons learned.

We hope that Global Collaborative Healthcare will not only support the efforts of those who are involved in global collaborative health care projects, but also inspire those who aren’t involved to consider joining in. It’s not an easy mission—but I can assure you it’s a rewarding one.

Steven J. Thompson

Chief Executive Officer, Johns Hopkins Medicine International

Senior Vice President, Johns Hopkins Medicine