The North American Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (NAO) is a collaborative partnership of interested researchers, research organizations, governments, and health organizations promoting evidence-informed health system policy decision-making. Due to the high degree of health system decentralization in the United States and Canada, the NAO is committed to focusing considerable attention to state and provincial health systems and to creating a foundation for more systematic health system and policy comparisons among substates.
- Establish a health systems research network in North America, beginning with the United States and Canada but eventually incorporating Mexico
- Collect, analyse and disseminate information and analysis on health care policies and reforms, paying particular attention to state and provincial governments
- Partner with the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and the Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies on research and knowledge transfer and exchange initiatives
- Create a rapid response capacity for governments in North America interested in obtaining environmental scans or analyses of policies comparing selected jurisdictions in North America
Products and Services
- Comparative state and provincial health systems and policy studies
- Monograph length health system profiles of provinces in Canada (eventually extend to states in the United States and Mexico)
- Health policy news and updates for researchers and decision-makers
- Policy briefs and environmental scans produced in response to rapid response requests of governments
- Decision-maker summaries of findings from the NAO’s major research projects
NAO Administrative Structure
- The NAO is a non-profit academic organization based on a network of academics based in Canada, the United States and Mexico
- To extend its comparative work beyond North America, the NAO works with academics associated with the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and the Asia-Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies
- The secretariat of the NAO is housed at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME), University of Toronto
- The NAO has three academic research hubs, one in each of the three NAO countries:
- In Canada at the University of Toronto under the direction of Professor Gregory P. Marchildon and Sara Allin, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
- In the United States at the University of California in Los Angeles under the direction of Professor Thomas Rice, Department of Health Policy and Management, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
- In Mexico at Anahuac University under the direction of Dr. Miguel Angel González-Block, Faculty of Health Sciences
- The executive team of the NAO is made up of Gregory P. Marchildon (Founding Director), Sara Allin (Director), Thomas Rice (Associate Director), Miguel González-Block (Associate Director), Amélie Quesnel-Vallée (Associate Director) and Monika Roerig (Research Coordinator/Secretariat).
- The NAO’s Advisory board is made up of the governments and health organizations who are subscribing members of the NAO
Gregory P. Marchildon, Founding Director
The founding director of the NAO, Gregory P. Marchildon is Professor and Ontario Research Chair in Health Policy and System Design at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto. A scholar-practitioner, Marchildon has extensive experience in establishing and working in national and international research and policy networks. A member of the editorial board of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, Marchildon is also the Canadian representative on the Health Systems and Policy Monitor network. As the founding director of the NAO, Marchildon is mobilizing the key people and infrastructure to launch and manage the NAO.
Sara Allin, Director
Sara Allin is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto. Sara’s research and teaching span comparative health systems and policies, health system performance and health equity. Prior to joining the NAO, Sara was a Senior Researcher with the Canadian Institute for Health Information. As Director (formerly the Director of Operations), Sara works closely with the executive team to strengthen national and international partnerships, and she provides leadership and strategic direction for the research staff in Canada on research and member-directed projects and rapid reviews.
Thomas Rice, Associate Director (United States)
Thomas Rice is Professor of the Department of Health Policy and Management at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. His areas of interest include health insurance, competition and regulation; physicians’ economic behavior; and Medicare. He was lead author of a book about the U.S. health care system, for the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Dr. Rice was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. He was chair of the AcademyHealth Board of Directors in 2005-6, and previously he had been awarded its Article of the Year Award and its Young Investigator Award.
Miguel Angel González Block, Associate Director (Mexico)
Dr. Miguel Angel González-Block is Associate Researcher at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Anahuac University. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico and of the National Researchers System, Level III. He serves as editor emeritus for BiomedCentral’s Health Research Policy and Systems and was the founding Director of the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research at the World Health Organization. Dr. González-Block has extensive experience in policy analysis and systems research at the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico, the Mexican Health Foundation, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Health Organization. He has collaborated in international health systems analysis in diverse teams, among which the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research at WHO, and the Tropical Disease Research and Training Program at WHO.
Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, Associate Director (Québec)
Amélie Quesnel-Vallée holds the Canada Research Chair on Policies and Health Inequalities. She is an Associate Professor at McGill University, where she is jointly appointed across the Faculties of Arts and Medicine, respectively in the Departments of Sociology and of Epidemiology. She is Director of the McGill Observatory on Health and Social Services Reforms (MOHSSR). She is also the founding Director of the International Research Infrastructure on Social inequalities in health (IRIS) and a founding member of the Centre on Population Dynamics at McGill. Her research examines the contribution of social policies to social inequalities in health over the life course. Her research has received numerous awards, including the Population Association of America Dorothy Thomas award and the 2005 American Sociological Association Dissertation Award.
Monika Roerig, Research Coordinator
Monika Roerig has been working with the NAO as Research Coordinator since 2019. She holds a Masters of Arts degree in Community Psychology, and has contributed to many research projects and evaluations for a wide variety of stakeholders.