Visiting Professor Christopher Forrest
Give us a brief introduction about yourself
My Name is Professor Christopher Forrest. I am a pediatrician by profession. I have an MD in pediatrics and have a clinical background in childrens healthcare. My PhD is on Health Care Management from John Hopkins University. I did my medical training in Philadelphia and Boston University where I gained my basic skills on childrens healthcare. After finishing my PhD, I stayed at John Hopkins University as a professor. I later went to the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia where I run a research center on childrens health and healthcare management and I was also the Senior Vice-president of the Childrens Hospital on healthcare transformation. This meant that I was in charge of conducting research on ways to improve the healthcare delivery system. I currently teach about health services systems, quality of care and I am appointed in the School of Medicine, the Watkins School of Business and the Graduate School Education at University of Pennsylvania. I hold an adjunct appointment at the John Hopkins University, School of Public Health.
How is it lecturing, working on research and being a medical Doctor at the same time?
Being a pediatrician is what I love doing but almost all of my work now, is on research. I do some teaching, but not much of it. The research centre uses millions of dollars to work on figuring out ways to measure quality of care, measure how healthy children are etc.; we are also developing a new healthcare model which is something that is also happening here in Kenya whereby hospitals collect data on their patients and use this data to develop new ways of improving healthcare and also carrying out research. It is therefore a combination of data collection system as well as quality improvement in research.
What is your biggest challenge in your line of work?
My challenge, which am very sure applies to the whole medical field is the existence of lots of treatments and its hard to know which one to use on which patient. Learning how systems are constantly triggering out and what treatments to give to which patients, is a challenge not only to me but to all doctors.
I however teach my students and colleagues the importance of the three rights, that is; Giving the best quality healthcare is giving the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.
What is the relevance of the MBA in Healthcare Management course that SBS is offering to the achievement of Kenyas Vision 2030?
I believe that training the managers in the healthcare sector the management skills will go a long way in making the healthcare sector in the country to be more developed and more patient-oriented.
With the devolved government that Kenya has taken up, do you think the leaders are up to task to implement and run the healthcare sector effectively?
I think the county governments should be tasked with the responsibility of running the healthcare sector in their counties. I however would like to split the healthcare sector into two; the public health and service delivery. The public health component is clearly a shared responsibility between the county and the nation. There are some problems that are faced by the whole nation and some are unique to one county thus the responsibility cannot be left to one sector only. So having a public health function at the county level makes a lot of sense and I would expect that would be the case.
When it comes to paying for healthcare, that is another kettle of fish. I would not recommend the financing systems to the county government partly because what the government can do is help redistribute resources. Even in the United States, the wealthier people pay for healthcare for the less wealthy people. Another factor is regulation of insurance. We dont want a situation where the 47 counties are regulating insurance in different ways. Just because its devolution, it doesnt mean that every single healthcare function should be devolved.
What would be your recommendations to all the medical practitioners in the country?
I would say focus on unnecessary deaths first. These are deaths caused by diarrhea, pneumonia, respiratory illnesses and HIV/AIDS. These are all problems that can be prevented through a good public health infrastructure, cleaner water, safer sexual practices and a good primary healthcare. I would insist on good hospital infrastructure as being one of the primary things the public sector should be focusing on.
How can you describe your experience for the time you have been at SBS?
Terrific! I would say it has been very rewarding; I have taken a course on healthcare management that we taught in the US and tried to fit it in the Kenyan context. Students here are terrific, faculty is wonderful, and The Masters in Health care management is a new program with a lot of possibilities that makes it exciting.
Is this your first time to Kenya?
Yes, it actually my first in Africa, first time in Kenya, First time in Nairobi and of course first time in Strathmore Business School.
What do you do for fun?
I love being outdoors; I have been running around Nairobi and will definitely come back with my wife. She is also a doctor.
I love to run and bike; am a biker. I also love to fly fish. Fly fishing is a type of fishing in streams where its very quiet, you tie a fly and dip it in the water as bait. I am very devoted to my family, my wife and three children.
Christopher Forrests Profile
Christopher Forrest is faculty at the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He holds an adjunct appointment in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Forrest received his BA and MD degrees at Boston University as part of a dual-degree program, trained in pediatrics at the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, and completed a PhD in Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins University.
He has authored over 150 scientific manuscripts and reviews, and his research is supported by a broad mix of public, foundation, and private funders. Forrest is a general pediatrician with methodological expertise in health services and outcomes research and evaluation, delivery system transformation, and primary care research. He leads a research center focused on developing new measures of health outcome and quality, pediatric health care value, and advancing the learning health system in pediatrics.