For Immediate Release

Jan. 252021


John Lyon
Strategic Communications Manager


LITTLE ROCK ― Dr. Joe Thompson, president and CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, will serve on a newly formed national panel that will seek to advance racial equity in the field of health services research.

Thompson has accepted an invitation from AcademyHealth, the leading professional association for health services researchers and healthcare policymakers, to serve on its Advisory Group on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Health Services Research.

AcademyHealth recently announced the formation of the panel and said its primary objective is to advise the organization’s board of directors on how to “prioritize and implement tangible efforts to define, facilitate, and measure meaningful change within the organization and, using its role in the broader health services research ecosystem, to influence individuals, organizations, and the policies that support health care and research.”

Although the panel’s initial focus is on racial equity, AcademyHealth said the advisory group will also help develop strategies inclusive of other marginalized communities.

“I am honored to be asked to serve on this body,” Thompson said. “Health disparities in our low-income communities and communities of color must be recognized and addressed. These disparities are the result of persistent, systemic inequities, and health services researchers cannot adequately understand and find solutions for those inequities while there is insufficient diversity in our own ranks. I am confident that AcademyHealth and this advisory group can use our experience and influence to be catalysts for real change.”

Before becoming president and CEO of ACHI, Thompson served as Arkansas’s inaugural surgeon general for 10 years under Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee and Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. He has more than 35 years of experience on state and national corporate and public boards. Previously, he was the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s first Child and Adolescent Health Scholar, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, and assistant vice president of the National Committee for Quality Assurance. He is a professor of pediatrics and public health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

ACHI is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that serves as a catalyst for improving the health of all Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development.