Karen Palmer

Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences

E-Mail: kpalmer@sfu.ca

Karen Palmer is an Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University and an independent health policy analyst and health services researcher. For the past 25 years, she has been involved in the practice of public health, mostly in health policy research and analysis, and health services planning, bridging theory and practice in a variety of public health settings. Karen joined the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in 2008 where she taught public health and comparative health policy, and coordinated the MPH practicum program until 2013.

Karen holds two graduate degrees in Public Health (MPH focusing on International/Global Health; MS focusing on Health Services, Policy, and Planning); and a Graduate Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning, all from the University of Hawaii (Manoa). Karen is currently the Principal Investigator of a 19-member international research team, where she is leading a CIHR-funded systematic review of the effects of activity-based funding in hospitals on cost, quality, access, equity, and efficiency.

Originally from Canada, Karen divided her time in 1984-2006 between Canada, the US, and Switzerland. As someone who lived with one foot on either side of the Canada-U.S. border for more than two decades, and in Europe for nearly three years, she brings a unique perspective to the practice of public health, health care financing and delivery systems, and international health policies.

From 2001-2004 she worked at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, as a technical officer within both the Communicable Disease and the Non-Communicable Disease Branches.  During that time she was a WHO liaison to representatives from the 22 high-burden countries — those countries that account for 80% of the global burden of TB — for planning related to global TB control. She compiled and analyzed the strategic planning data for, and co-authored, the Global Tuberculosis Control Report in 2002, 2003, and 2004. She also coordinated a study of human resources for health as they pertain to global TB control, and authored a strategic plan for scaling up the STEPwise approach to global non-communicable disease risk factor surveillance. She was at WHO when the SARS outbreak first occurred, and experienced first-hand the evolution of the global community’s response to this new threat. She continues to follow with close interest the epidemiology of budding global epidemics and pandemics.

Karen lived in Hawaii from 1985-1995 where she worked as a Senior Health Planner for the Hawaii State Department of Health in the Office of Policy, Planning, and Program Development, focusing on Primary Care and Rural Health in the Hawaiian Islands. She later served as a consultant to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division at a time when Hawaii was under a “consent decree” to correct deficiencies in their children’s mental health programs, and to other organizations including the Hawaii Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association, Hawaii Child and Family Service, and Utah State University, among others.

In the late 80s, she served as a clinic assistant and educator with the Marimed Foundation’s multi-national health care team aboard a 156-foot triple-masted top-sail schooner, Tole Mour (meaning “gift of life and health”). This self-contained health services ship delivered primary care to the people of the Marshall Islands, the most remote coral atolls in the world, located in the heart of the Pacific Basin. She later returned to the Pacific to study the associations between rapid social change, prenatal care and, ultimately, birth outcomes in the indigenous people of Saipan, located in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Karen’s passion for more than two decades has been comparative international health care systems and health care system reform, with a particular interest in US, European, and Canadian health care policies. She serves as a board advisor to, and was a former board member of, the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP); a progressive advocacy group dedicated to leading the U.S. toward a universal, publicly-funded, single-payer, national health program. Since returning to Canada in 2006, she has served as a policy adviser to Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM), working with them in their efforts to use evidence to strengthen Canada’s Medicare system. In 2007, she was appointed Research Associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (British Columbia Office) where she collaborates with other researchers in Canada and the US on health care policy and health care systems research.

Recent publications:

Palmer KS, Agoritsas T, Martin D, Scott T, Mulla SM, Miller AP, Agarwal A, Bresnahan A, Hazzan AA, Jeffery RA, Merglen A, Negm A, Siemieniuk RA, Bhatnagar N, Dhalla IA, Lavis JN, You JJ, Duckett SJ, Guyatt GH. Activity-Based Funding of Hospitals and its Impact on Mortality, Readmission, Discharge Destination, Severity of Illness, and Volume of Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, PLOS ONE, October 27, 2014.

Tyssen R, Palmer K, Solberg I, Voltmer E, Frank E. Physicians' perceptions of quality of care, professional autonomy, and job satisfaction in Canada, Norway, and the United States. Biomedical Central Health Services Research, 13:516, 15 December 2013.

Palmer KS, Martin D, Guyatt G.  Prelude to a Systematic Review of Activity-Based Funding of Hospitals: Effects on Health Care System Cost, Quality, Access, Efficiency, and Equity. Vol. 7(4), pp. 94-97 October 6, 2013.