Ruth Thorlby (U.K.), M.Sc.
Harkness/Health Foundation Fellow
The Nuffield Trust
Harkness Project Title: How are Health Care Organizations Using Patients’ Race and Ethnicity Data to Improve the Quality of Care?
Mentors: John Z. Ayanian, M.D.; Bruce Siegel, M.D.
Placement: Harvard Medical School
Biography at time of Harkness Fellowship: Ruth Thorlby, a 2008–09 Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice, is a fellow in health policy at the King's Fund, where she was previously a research officer. In this role, Thorlby heads the Briefings Unit, which produces analyses and commentary for policymakers and the media. Thorlby also has ten years of experience as a journalist, including positions as assistant producer for BBC Television's "Panorama," and senior broadcast journalist for BBC World Service Radio. She is the lead author of 14 King's Fund reports, and has been published in journals such as the British Medical Journal, Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, and Health Services Journal. Thorlby holds a master's degree in social policy and planning from the London School of Economics, where her dissertation, "From Patient to Consumer: Will more patient choice in the NHS mean better health care?" won the Titmuss Examination Prize.
Project: Ruth Thorlby delivered an assessment of how racial and ethnic data are being collected and used in the design of interventions to improve quality and reduce disparities. In her two-phase project, Thorlby first created an overview of how many and what type of organizations routinely collect and analyze racial/ethnic data on their patients, and summarized the different ways the data is being used to improve quality. In the second phase, she examined a shortlist of organizations in greater depth, using them as case studies to investigate the impact of collecting and using race and ethnicity data on the quality of services and on the work of physicians and other frontline staff.
Current Position: Senior Fellow, The Nuffield Trust. (Updated August 2010)
Thorlby R. “Ruth Thorlby on the price of healthcare in the US.” Health Service Journal. Online article. 27 October 2008.