Lindsay Hedden is the Faculty of Health Sciences’ new Assistant Professor of Learning Health Systems.

New assistant professor aims to improve public health care for all

January 06, 2020

Lindsay Hedden, the Faculty of Health Sciences’ new Assistant Professor of Learning Health Systems, believes in research that strengthens the public health care system so that it benefits all Canadians.

“I’m driven by a strong belief that access to a high-quality and sustainable health care system must be based on need and not on ability to pay,” she says. “I’m particularly focused on primary care as the foundation of health care systems that are able to achieve the best outcomes within the context of an equity orientation for patients.”

Her work in primary care focuses specifically on how to improve access for patients; how to measure current and predict future supply and demand; and how to address physician workforce issues, all in the context of a developing learning health system.

Hedden is also the Assistant Scientific Director of BC’s Academic Health Sciences Network and works in close partnership with the BC Ministry of Health, regional health authorities, health care professionals and patients.

In her doctoral and postdoctoral work at UBC and the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation, she identified and worked to address gaps in health system data use and data infrastructure, studying the impact of those gaps on primary care accessibility and workforce planning. By examining physician billings, she explored why the availability of community-based primary care has declined, despite substantial increases in the number of primary care physicians per capita.

Currently, she has three projects in development:

1)    Conceptual work that advances the theory and application of the learning health system model in BC, focusing specifically on alignment with the rollout of team-based primary care, and primary care networks.

2)    An examination of the effects of the increasing corporatization and privatization of primary care on equity, accessibility, and quality of care.

3)    A cross-provincial study that investigates the increasing role of virtual care in the primary care context, including implications for costs, accessibility and continuity of care.

Her work uses a variety of observational research designs and data sources, including surveys and interviews of patients and health care professionals, in addition to policy and document analysis.

Hedden was attracted to SFU by the opportunity to collaborate with the interdisciplinary faculty in FHS and their focus on health equity.

“I’m excited to be working in an applied role at the interface between research and policy, and directly contributing to health system improvement,” she says. “I’m looking forward to learning from a diverse group of faculty and students, and shaping my research program based on these new collaborations.”