Hueming Liu

Meet Dr Hueiming Liu, Senior Research Fellow, Health Systems Science

Dr Hueiming Liu is a Senior Research Fellow with the Health System Science Program at the George Institute for Global Health.

Tell us about your role with The George Institute

I am a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre of Health Systems Science at The George Institute. My PhD thesis was on the topic "Strengthening Health Systems through the use of process evaluations", and my role is to lead the process evaluation stream at The George Institute. I am funded by John Chalmers program grant fellowship.

What made you choose health systems as your research focus?

Before working at the George institute in 2008, I studied medicine at University of Sydney and worked in the public health system for 3 years. So that experience provided some exposure to the public health system in Australia. But upon reflection, I think my interest in health systems started earlier during some pivotal voluntary and clinical experiences as a student. For example, I was a student leader for spring trips during my undergraduate degree in the US. One of the trips involved volunteering with a fantastic Indigenous-led community centre in the Navajo Nation, to support the clinical needs of children with disabilities. As a medical student, I also travelled across China, attached to different types of hospitals (from Tianjin and then in Qinghai), and volunteered at an orphanage. I still recall feeling the heartache and despair, as I fed the cleft lipped newborns then...I was also attached to an HIV clinic in Uganda, during which I was continually inspired by the nurses who did these really challenging home visits and empowered the community members, (especially the women) as best as they could.

All of these formative experiences, piqued an interest in health systems, especially in how systems can be vastly different across countries, different across urban and rural settings. And a deep appreciation of how social determinants, health system and policies can really impact on the wellbeing of an individual and their families, across generations.

What are some highlights as you think back over your experience so far?

I've been at The George since 2008, initially as a program manager of Kanyini Vascular Collaboration (a collaboration between academic institutes, policymakers and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.) which aimed to better understand how to build better health systems. It was a highlight to be able to visit different Aboriginal community-controlled health services, meet the fantastic staff there, and to hear the vision of the CEOs for their services. It was such a privilege to listen to people's stories and to be welcomed into the community. Similarly, working on the ATTEND trial with the team from Ludhiana, India was such a blessing, and I have formed firm friendships and collaborations through that project. Another highlight was working on a rehabilitation trial at the Centre for Rehabilitation for the Paralysed in Bangladesh. It's an amazing and inspiring place, and a testament of how compassion, pulled global resources and hard work, drove the establishment of this 200 plus bed hospital, and training of hundreds of much needed allied health workers, from the ground-up.

In your role is there a particular project or is there something else that you would like to see happen?

I think I see my role as 2 components. First, is about embedding process evaluation into our research when relevant. I guess why I feel that is important, is that our work has to address the local needs, and be sustainable, to improve health and social outcomes. Process evaluations highlight the importance of looking at the individual, organisational and policy context, to better understand the 'unseen mechanisms' of human behaviour. I hope to help build a community of practice so that we have the capacity- people and resources to be able to do this program to work well; and that we learn from each other so that this field of global implementation research as a whole will strengthen and grow. So that's one component.

Second, is probably more related to what I am personally interested in, apart from the methodology, which is to strengthen health systems especially the integration of health systems between tertiary and primary care, between sectors and how to do that robustly and sustainably. I'd like to be involved in or part of programs where that's what we're doing, as per the WHO integrated people-centred health services framework, so that we tackle the complexities of health and social care head-on, and provide holistic care that is centred on the individual, carers and their families.