Thom Walsh, PhD

Founder & Chief Strategy Officer

Thom Walsh has spent 25 years as a healthcare innovator, clinician, researcher, administrator, author, educator and strategic consultant. Now he brings this multilayered and hands-on experience to Cardinal Point where he helps diverse provider and payer clients stay the course towards greater quality, efficiency and profitability in the face of an ever-changing healthcare landscape.

One particular focus for Thom has been the study of variations in healthcare costs and utilization. His work on these and other topics has appeared in such peer-reviewed journals as The BMJ, JAMA, Quality Management in Health Care, Spine and the Journal of Healthcare Management. Thom has also been published in The Atlantic, Forbes, and New America Weekly. In Navigating to Greater Value in Healthcare, his new book from the Medical Group Management Association, he offers real-world solutions to help healthcare organizations identify and quickly improve underperforming areas. Click on MGMA to access Thom’s recent “Navigating to Value” podcast.

Prior to Cardinal Point, Thom spent 15 years as a board-certified orthopedic physical therapist in private practice and academia. During this time, he helped design and launch The Dartmouth Hitchcock’s Spine Center, an innovative multidisciplinary research and care center for patients with complex pain issues. Based on this experience, he authored studies reporting on the innovative use of patient-reported outcome measures to guide clinical decisionmaking at the point of service, and the use of shared decisionmaking tools and techniques to align care with patients’ informed preferences.

While completing his PhD in health policy¹ at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Thom helped develop and deliver educational content for an intense international healthcare executive program. As an Institute postdoctoral fellow, he co-authored a Macy Foundation-funded grant to teach shared decisionmaking, motivational interviewing, and risk-communication skills using online asynchronous content and experiential learning, and co-taught courses on variation in healthcare delivery with health policy thought leader John “Jack” Wennberg. He now teaches value-based care, patient-reported outcomes, process improvement, cost allocation and patient-provider communications as an adjunct Dartmouth faculty member, and offering guidance to the University of Tulsa’s development of a healthcare delivery science master’s degree program.

More recently, Thom has:

  • designed educational programs to help US military organizations roll out value-based care initiatives to clinical and nonclinical personnel;
  • designed educational content to help OneHealth Nebraska integrate 500 independent physicians and ready them for Medicare payment reform
  • advised leading healthcare consulting and technology companies on health policy, process improvement and data analytics; and
  • worked with The Chronic Osteoarthritis Management Initiative to change the paradigm of osteoarthritis care.

In addition to a PhD in health policy, Thom earned a Master of Science degree in evaluative clinical sciences from Dartmouth College, a Master of Science degree in physical therapy from D’Youville College, and a mechanical diagnosis and therapy diploma from The McKenzie Institute International in Wellington, New Zealand.

A lifelong endurance athlete, he volunteers with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue division’s Altadena Mountain Rescue Team.

¹Dissertation focused on using multi-level statistical models to understand variation in hospital costs and length of stay.