Health Is So Much More Than Health Care

August 17, 2017

Dr. Davis sees patients like Joseph at Lurie Children's Pediatrics—Uptown clinic.

"One of the things that attracted me most to Lurie Children's was its commitment to serving the community, and its persistence in looking for additional ways to improve the lives of children in the neighborhoods of Chicago, in Illinois, and around the country," says Matthew Davis, MD, MAPP, who joined the hospital last year to head Academic General Pediatrics and serve as Associate Chief Research Officer for Health Services and Policy Research at the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute at Lurie Children's. He is also the Director of the Mary Ann and J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research Program.

"Our whole mission, every day, is to improve the health of children. But however excellent a job we do in our hospital and in our clinics, children spend most of their lives elsewhere," he points out. "They are deeply affected by the health and stability of their families and communities. That means that addressing children's needs is like working on a vital puzzle that differs for every child, at many levels."

To solve the puzzle, Dr. Davis turns to research, a long-standing passion. After training in pediatrics and internal medicine, he pursued a degree in public policy and health services research. His overarching goal is to strengthen Lurie Children's positive impact on communities by connecting excellent clinical work to population health, informed by top-notch research and evidence-based advocacy.

Dr. Davis hopes to partner with Chicago parents and community groups to develop an ongoing survey seeking their input on the top priorities for child health, seeing their perspectives as an essential window on the health challenges and opportunities that children face. The Survey of Children's Health in Chicago, to launch in 2018 in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health, will be essential as Lurie Children's designs future programs that are data-driven and community-responsive.

Dr. Davis envisions bringing the voices of Chicago's families and communities to the public dialogue about children's health, including community feedback on health outcomes. The information gathered through the survey will be shared and used by parents and families, schools, government agencies, researchers and non-profit organizations, all to serve the communities of Chicago more effectively. "I want to help Lurie Children's make community connectedness one of its best assets," he says, "because that will be one of the best ways to ensure that children in Chicago have the best chance at their best health."

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Heroes magazine.