Archive for August, 2012

1990s spawn research and refinement of KP addiction care

posted on August 30, 2012

By Laura Thomas
Heritage correspondent

Old stereotypes don’t accurately represent people who have trouble controlling alcohol consumption. Fotosearch photo

Second in a series
Northern California KP found itself scrambling in the early 1990s to enhance its substance abuse treatment program to meet new government mandates and employer group expectations. But a dedicated and innovative team of psychiatrists and psychologists soon caught up with the trend to treat addicts with the latest methods.

Mimicking the KP Southern California chemical dependency program established in the 1970s gave the Northern California programs upgrade a jumpstart.  Since then, The Permanente Medical Group (TPMG) has conducted studies and pilot programs to improve care and “mainstream” alcoholics and addicts into the primary care program for early intervention.

Charles Moore, MD, now chief of addiction medicine at KP Sacramento, and Lyman Boynton, MD, who had begun the alcoholism program in KP San Francisco, headed south in the early 1990s for consultations with Don Gragg, MD, and Tony Radcliffe, MD, at Fontana Medical Center and at the outpatient chemical dependency program at the Los Angeles Medical Center.

“We literally stole their design. We made copies of all the written documents they used for patient care in their facilities and used it as a template to design our programs,” Moore said.  Psychiatrist David Pating, MD, Moore, and psychologist Steve Allen, PhD, who cheerfully refer to themselves as “dinosaurs,” were all involved in setting up Northern California’s programs in the early 1990s.

Exxon Valdez spill prompts new regulations

The Exxon Valdez whose captain was asleep below the deck ran aground shortly after leaving the Port of Valdez near Alaska in 1989. This picture was taken three days later just before a storm. The captain had reportedly been drinking alcohol and asked the third mate to pilot the tanker. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

All health plans were compelled to offer these services after the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster propelled Congress to pass the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991.

With the mandate to test employees and get serious about treating employees’ drug and alcohol problems, major employers threatened to “carve out” (go elsewhere for) the behavioral health portion of their employees’ health insurance coverage if Kaiser Permanente didn’t offer more extensive treatment.

“It was a confluence of pressures that brought about a concerted effort to build an integrated care system for treating addiction,” remembers Pating, chief of addiction medicine today at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco.

They hired new staff and got busy trying out new ideas. “There was a certain frenetic excitement that we had,” Pating recalled. “We would redesign the program and curriculum until we could get it to be really the best.”

Pilot programs began at KP San Francisco and Sacramento, and then expanded to Vallejo, Santa Clara and Oakland; in 2006, departments were established at Hayward, Santa Rosa, Fresno, Walnut Creek and Modesto.

What emerged in the ensuing years was a more comprehensive curriculum of individual and group work led by trained counselors that focused on helping addicts confront their illness and work on recovery over an extended period. 

Success for intensive day treatment

Treatment might begin with 40 hours a week of intense day treatment, followed by weeks of group therapy, tapering off over one to three years.  Patients requiring detoxification were managed by primary care physicians or sent to contract facilities.

Outpatient group therapy is a key element of the updated KP chemical dependency programs. Fotosearch photo

“We argued our model would be more effective than a 28-day or 30-day (inpatient) program,” said psychologist Steve Allen, who helped set up the program in KP Vallejo, “because with (28-day treatment) there is a high relapse problem.” The response (to intense day treatment) was so positive, he remembered, that employers who had carved out their behavioral health coverage returned to Kaiser Permanente, and “employee assistance programs were advising (companies) that did not have Kaiser Permanente to sign up.”

In addition, fewer chemically dependent patients showed up in the emergency room (ER). “We managed detox as an outpatient (service) better than we thought, and ER responded positively,” Pating said.

Chemical Dependence Recovery Program (CDRP) staffers moved on to work with the psychiatry department to coordinate care for patients with the dual diagnosis of depression and addiction. They also put into place Northern California KP’s innovative Early Start program for pregnant women with drug or alcohol problems, which began in 2003.

Today, 42 KP prenatal clinics in Northern California have a team of specialists who do initial screening and then follow women throughout their pregnancy with a program to counsel and support them in reducing their use. Based on continuing evaluation of the results in baby birth weight and other factors, with the help of the Division of Research (DOR), the program has been expanded to the Hawaii Region and part of Southern California since 2006.

Ambitious research to validate treatment methods

In the intervening years, the “dinosaur” pioneers also began a partnership with TPMG’s Division of Research to study the quality of substance abuse care and possible costs savings realized by providing this type of treatment.

In the October 2000 issue of Health Services Research, TPMG researchers, led by Connie Weisner, doctor of public health, published a study of outcomes for patients who began treatment in KP’s Sacramento alcohol and drug treatment program from 1994 to 1996.

The study, “The Outcome and Cost of Alcohol and Drug Treatment in an HMO: Day Hospital Versus Traditional Outpatient Regimens,” compared the success and costs of an intensive six-hours-a-day program to a two-to-eight-hours-per-week program.1

KP programs offer hope for recovering addicts. Fotosearch illustration

In 2001, Weisner, Moore and others studied the benefits of integrating primary care with substance abuse services at KP Sacramento. They found that substance abuse patients who were mainstreamed were more likely to be abstinent at six months. They continued to track those patients for another nine years and found those who continued to get primary care were less likely to be hospitalized or use the emergency room. 2

It’s taken a lot of research, numerous pilot programs and persistence on the part of Pating and his colleagues, but Kaiser Permanente is moving forward along with the nation in mainstreaming substance abuse treatment.

The research team recently obtained a $2.5 million National Institutes of Health grant for primary care medical teams to screen for substance abuse, offer brief interventions, and study the results.

Health care reform’s impact on addiction care

Full integration will require overcoming the reluctance of primary care doctors to take on increased workloads and to acquire new skills associated with treating addiction, Pating said. But he predicts that in the next five to 10 years there will be major changes in this arena, pushed by mandates in the 2010 Affordable Care Act that require parity between the treatment of substance abuse and other chronic medical conditions.

Pating et al. recently compiled an analysis of the future of substance abuse programs in the new climate created by the health care reform act. The report, published in Psychiatric Clinics of North America in June 2012, reviews current systems and examines the expansion of addiction treatment to include new methods and settings. The report also discusses changing technology, new financing/payment mechanisms and expanded information management processes.

In the journal report, Pating notes that about 23.5 million American adults have a substance abuse disorder, but only 10.4 % receive the addiction treatment they need. He adds that integrating these patients into the primary care setting may be the only hope for some who won’t seek addiction treatment due to societal stigma.3

 

1 “The Outcome and Cost of Alcohol and Drug Treatment in an HMO: Day Hospital Treatment Versus Traditional Outpatient Regimens,” Kaiser Permanente Division of Research staffers Constance Weisner, doctor of public health; Jennifer Mertens, MA; Sujaya Parthasarathy, PhD; Charles Moore, MD, MBA; Enid M. Hunkeler, MA; Teh-wei Hu, PhD, UC Berkeley; and Joe V. Selby, MD, former DOR director, October 2000, Health Services Research.

2 “Integrating Primary Medical Care With Addiction Treatment: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” DOR researchers Constance Weisner, doctor of public health; Jennifer Mertens, MA; Sujaya Parthasarathy, PhD; Charles Moore, MD, MBA; and Yun Lu, MPH, 2001 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

3 “New Systems of Care for Substance Use Disorders. Treatment, Finance, and Technology under Health Care Reform,” David R. Pating, MD, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research; Michael M. Miller, MD, University of Wisconsin; Eric Goplerud, PhD, MA, University of Chicago; Judith Martin, MD, BAART Turk Street Clinic, San Francisco, CA; and Douglas M. Ziedonis, MD, University of Massachusetts; Psychiatric Clinics of North America, June 2012.

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Kaiser Permanente’s long history of “culturally competent care”

posted on August 28, 2012

Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources has started a regular column in the labor-management partnership publication Hank about the rich labor history of the organization.

The Summer 2012 issue includes a story about how Bay Area longshore workers participated in a groundbreaking medical program—the Multiphasic Screening Examination, the first comprehensive health assessment conducted in cooperation with a union, way back in 1951. One aspect of this relationship was understanding that good medical care requires knowing about a patient’s living and working conditions. Even after a remarkable record of offering health care for workers in the shipyards during World War II, further physician education was called for.

Recognizing traditional medical services were not well attuned to the health needs of working people, the ILWU newsletter The Dispatch noted “Local 10 is going to put five Permanente doctors through a course of indoctrination on the waterfront, so that they will learn first-hand the conditions under which longshoremen work and will be better able to interpret the tests.”

Read the whole story at http://www.lmpartnership.org/stories-videos/longshore-start-total-health

short permanent URL for this item – bit.ly/RVK5RY

 

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Twentieth century stigma retards treatment for addiction

posted on August 27, 2012

By Laura Thomas
Heritage correspondent

First in a series
Despite Kaiser Permanente’s early emphasis on preventive health care, pervasive 20th century American attitudes about alcohol and drug abuse curbed Health Plan leaders’ willingness to tackle addiction as a bona fide treatable illness.

“Very few physicians or even psychiatrists are willing to treat the chronic alcoholic, just as few lawyers go into the specialty of bankruptcy law,”
Paul Gliebe, MD, of the University of California medical school, told Kaiser Permanente physicians in 1953. “The chronic alcoholic is in most instances looked upon as a bankrupt personality.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) was also reluctant to empathize with alcoholics, stopping short of declaring alcoholism a disease in 1956, while encouraging hospitals to admit patients suffering from the symptoms.1

“Since the earliest era, (Kaiser) Permanente (KP) physicians had resisted the idea of comprehensive care for alcoholism, self-inflicted wounds, or other self-induced illness,” the late KP San Francisco pediatrician John Smillie, MD, wrote in his 1991 book, Can Physicians Manage the Quality and Costs of Health Care?

This resistance existed despite some early voices in Kaiser Permanente who pointed out what the Permanente organization accepts today – that social and behavioral imbalances lead to disease and the symptoms include addiction and depression, now being recognized as diseases in themselves.

KP psychiatrist Kahn warns addicts need early care

One early KP psychiatrist, Bernard Kahn, MD, sounded an alarm at a Permanente Medical Group planning meeting in Monterey in 1960. From that vantage point, Kahn described the modern, ever-present pressures of managing technology, work and leisure:

“Our national consumption of tranquilizers and alcohol prove we are a nervous nation. Let’s face it: the internist, the surgeon, the general practitioner, our Drop-In (Clinic) physicians are treating this kind of illness – the intangible, aggravating, emotional upsets, day in and day out – regardless of what the Health Plan contract reads.”

Kahn asserted that the Health Plan needed to extend its preventive care to include alcoholics because they would surely develop chronic disease without treatment for their addiction. “(In this area) we’re already too late, and we are covering end-stage disease (caused by alcoholism).”

Dr. Kahn, a retired Navy psychiatrist, was helping to craft a cost-effective and practical psychiatric program, along with The Permanente Medical Group (TPMG) pioneer Morris Collen, MD, in the 1950s. Collen was concerned that traditional psychiatric appointments were too long at 50 minutes and would add unduly to Health Plan costs. He wanted Kahn to develop a program based on a 30-minute appointment. Unfortunately, Kahn died of a heart attack before he could accomplish the task, Dr. Collen said in his 1986 oral history.

KP institutes psychiatry program in late 1950s

In the late 1950s, Kahn and psychologist Nicholas Cummings had been successful in establishing a KP psychiatry program. But treatment for alcoholism and other addictions was kept at arm’s length until it was pushed by the federal government for its employees in 1969, physician leader Raymond Kay, MD, wrote in his 1979 book on the history of the KP Southern California medical group.2

The AMA also took its time to define alcoholism as a disease. It waited until 1967 to declare it a “disease that merits the serious concern of all members of the health professions.” By then, President Lyndon Johnson had publicly called for more study and treatment for alcoholism, and health insurance plans had begun to respond.1

Richard Merrick, MD, then a young internist at KP’s Harbor City Medical Center in Southern California, said he was approached by the department chief in early 1971. “They needed at least one physician from each area to start an alcoholism program.

“There were 12 or 15 doctors in the department at the time and he came to me last because he had been turned down by everyone. There was zero interest at that time in having anything to do with ‘those people’. That was the common mentality at the time.”

Saying ‘no’ to alcohol excess

There was little understanding of the functional alcoholic or socialite imbibing wine, he said, only of the “stinking drunk. There was hardly any concept of addictions being diseases. They were defects of character. It was a matter of choice. These people were ‘bad’ so how could you treat that?” he said.

Dr. Merrick hired a recovering alcoholic to help him organize a one-night-a-week outpatient clinic, which lasted for three-and-a-half years. But if a patient was going through withdrawal symptoms, he or she could not be admitted easily.

“They had to have a seizure to get admitted. That’s how crazy it was for a while,” he remembered. “Once in a while I would sneak somebody in, and I would take all kinds of heat from the Health Plan because they would tell me it wasn’t a covered benefit.”

But industry and the government were determined to extend addiction treatment to as many American workers and their families as possible. Recognizing the need, KP regions began instituting coverage in the late 1970s, usually offering outpatient treatment services through the psychiatry department with a copayment and yearly cap on the number of counseling appointments or group meetings a member could use.

By the early 1980s, alcoholics were no longer falling “through the cracks at Kaiser (Permanente),” according to Andrus Skuja, MD, then chief of the alcohol and drug abuse program in South San Francisco. His comments in an interview in the KP Reporter employee newsletter in December 1982 reflected Merrick’s early experience in Southern California:

The U.S. Post Office issued this commemorative stamp in 1981. Illustration: Catwalk/Shutterstock.

During the 1980s as the nation recognized cocaine as a new addiction problem, KP saw the need to treat many other drug addictions. It was a little tough at first. Many alcohol counselors were not comfortable with “heroin addicts or pill users, and they didn’t seem to realize that the dynamics were all the same. Addiction is addiction,” Merrick recalled. “In the San Fernando Valley, one clinic treated alcoholics and another treated addicts other than alcoholics . . . that lasted for a while.”

Kaiser Permanente resisted the initial trend of sending people to 30-day inpatient treatment programs even though many large employers and well-off unions, such as the longshoremen, were pushing it.  KP established inpatient detoxification programs at KP Fontana for Kaiser Steel Mill employees in 1978 and in Carson just south of Los Angeles in 1988.

Thirty days was the gold standard based on the Minnesota model of alcoholism treatment that health insurers recognized and were willing to pay for. It got a large push when Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford, spoke of her alcoholism in 1978 and later lent her name to the Betty Ford Center for alcoholics and drug addicts.1

Merrick, who was never convinced of the need for the month-long inpatient stay, noted: “We never kept them in for 30 days . . . As it has shaken out, I was right.

“It was just common sense. If you are a functioning alcoholic and not going through detox, why on earth do you need to be in for 30 days when you can do equivalent work on an outpatient basis over a longer period of time, because treatment for alcoholism or any drug is a lifelong thing . . . There is nothing magical about the 30 days.”

This inpatient treatment model died off everywhere in the early 1990s and was replaced by less expensive residential treatment as an alternative for patients with special needs.

Next time: 1990s spawn research and refinement of addiction care

1 Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America, William L. White, Chestnut Health Systems/Lighthouse Institute, 1998

2 Historical Review of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Raymond M. Kay, MD, 1978, publisher: the Southern California Permanente Medical Group.

http://bit.ly/RSTxWc

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KP Northern California marks half a century of stellar research

posted on August 14, 2012

By Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Ellsworth Dougherty, MD, one of Kaiser Permanente’s earliest researchers, studied the worm that eventually led to the mapping of the human genome. This photo is from a research trip he took to Antarctica circa 1959.

Kaiser Permanente has a well-deserved public reputation for providing top quality health care, but less known is the health plan’s long and illustrious record for conducting high-caliber medical research. Kaiser Permanente is widely considered the leading non-university-based health research organization in the United States, with Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Division of Research amassing more than $100 million in 2011 to conduct research.

This research has a direct effect on health care in this country, influencing the way physicians care for patients and refining broader policies that support medical services. Kaiser Permanente researchers, often partnering with academic institutions, successfully compete for federal research grants, and develop lines of research whose results translate to improved patient outcomes at the local, state and national levels.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Research Director Jeffrey Harris, MD, put it this way: “If you look at who the leaders in research are and who the folks are that have been doing research… to improve care, it’s a very short list.  And Kaiser Permanente is clearly at the top of that list.” [i]

This year, The Permanente Medical Group, the oldest of the eight Kaiser Permanente regional medical groups, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding of its Division of Research.

In the past five decades, Kaiser Permanente researchers have conducted thousands of studies and helped to solve many medical mysteries – from the best way to cure pneumonia in the World War II shipyards, to making discoveries leading to the mapping of the human genome, to learning the most effective use of drugs to prevent heart attacks.

Gary Friedman, MD, led the Division of Research from 1991 to 1998. This image originally appeared in the KP Reporter, 1987.

The DOR (under its original name, Medical Methods Research, or MMR) was established September 21, 1961, by the Northern California medical group’s Executive Committee. Morris F. Collen, MD, one of the Health Plan’s founding members and a pioneer in the emerging discipline of medical informatics, led the group, which occupied offices in the old Kaiser Permanente headquarters at 1924 Broadway in Oakland.

Ten years earlier, Dr. Collen had met with Lester Breslow, MD, then a public health officer in San Jose who had recently completed a trial of “multiphasic screening.” This battery of thorough and efficient examinations was a practical solution to the problem of providing care to large populations despite the post-war shortage of physicians.

This approach was put to the test when labor leader Harry Bridges insisted that all members of the International Longshore and Warehousemens Union (ILWU) be given annual check-up exams as part of a negotiated care package with the Permanente Health Plan. Importantly, this exam approach provided a critical evidence base to empirically determine what screening methods are and are not clinically beneficial for patients.

Morris Collen, MD, was the first director of the Northern California research department, established in 1961.

In 1962, Kaiser Permanente Northern California received its first grant from the U.S. Public Health Service to develop, automate, and evaluate the multiphasic exam. Within three years, the Health Plan’s Oakland and San Francisco clinics began offering the Automated Multiphasic Health Testing to all members. In 1968 Dr. Collen dismissed some of the resistance to this use of technology:

“Many physicians are concerned that the computer is depersonalizing medical care,” he said. “Just the opposite is true. Because of the computer, the physician will have more individualized information about his patient—more complete and more accurate than he could possibly have gathered before.”[ii]

Antecedents to Permanente medical research

Even before the Health Plan went public in 1945, Henry J. Kaiser articulated research as one of its goals at the August 21, 1942, dedication of the Permanente Foundation Hospital in Oakland.  As former Kaiser Permanente historian Tom Debley observed:

Illustration for article on medical research, Kaiser Foundation Medical Care Program Annual Report 1968

“From prepaid dues it collected, the Permanente Foundation paid for the medical care of Health Plan members and accumulated funds for such charitable purposes as medical research and the extension of medical services to larger population. . .The idea that research would be a tool to bring advances in medicine to the plan’s dues-paying members thus was embedded in the medical care program from the outset.”[iii]

In 1943, founding physician Sidney R. Garfield received $25,000 from the Permanente Foundation to study new methods of curing syphilis[iv] and he launched the Permanente Foundation Department of Medical Research under the leadership of Franz R. Goetzl, PhD, MD. He also started the research journal Permanente Foundation Medical Bulletin, edited by Dr. Collen from 1943–1953.

The Department began to receive national recognition for outstanding work in the study of peptic ulcers, human appetite, and pain. By 1949 the name was changed to The Permanente Foundation Institute of Medical Research to clarify that the research was not only a department within the hospital.

 

Ernest Saward. MD, medical director of Kaiser Permanente Northwest from 1945 to 1970, launched the region’s research center in 1964.

In late 1958, research involving basic medical sciences was shifted to the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (KFRI), established by Kaiser Foundation Hospitals to coordinate long-term basic research projects supported by grants from sources other than the Kaiser Foundation Medical Care Program.[v] At first this just covered Northern California’s MMR and the Northwest research center (established in 1964.)

Today, all Kaiser Permanente regions – Hawaii, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado, Northwest, Northern and Southern California, and Mid-Atlantic States, conduct research under the auspices of the KFRI.

By 1961 KFRI’s domain included more than 50 long-range clinical research studies exploring such medical problems as cardiovascular and renal diseases, adenovirus infections, cancer, diabetes mellitus, and psychosomatic medicine. More than 70 staff physicians and residents conducted these investigations, often in collaboration with laboratories at nearby medical and scientific institutions.

Clifford H. Keene, MD, chief executive officer of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, was named director of KFRI.[vi] A wing of Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Richmond was remodeled to bring together several disparate research projects under the KFRI umbrella.

Laboratory of Comparative Biology Annex, 1301 Cutting Blvd., Richmond, CA, October 1961.

These included a Laboratory of Comparative Biology (under Ellsworth C. Dougherty, PhD, MD) studying the basic physiology of microorganisms; a Laboratory of Medical Entomology (under Ben F. Feingold, MD) investigating the role of insects in causing human allergies; a Laboratory of Human Functions; a study of the Epidemiology of Human Cancer; and a Child Development Study and Blood Grouping project that investigated congenital abnormalities and childhood diseases.

KP Northern California research evolves

During the late 1960s Edmund Van Brunt, MD, a project director for MMR, piloted the San Francisco Medical Data System, a computer-based patient medical record system with a database that supported both patient care and health care delivery  research. By 1973, Health Plan members in San Francisco had a computerized “lifetime” medical record, and pivotal work was conducted to begin to understand the safety of prescription drugs.

But by the early 1970s researchers were forced into a different avenue of research when the Nixon Administration abruptly canceled the department’s funding. The loss of $500,000 per year led to shutdown of the hospital computer system in San Francisco, but the application of computers and databases in medicine and health research continued, supporting new investigators and new areas of research.In 1979 Dr. Van Brunt succeeded Dr. Collen as the second director of the research department (MMR), and in 1986 he changed the name to the current Division of Research (DOR) to more accurately reflect the expanded mission and scope of clinical and other types of research that were being conducted there. Recently he described his vision of the program:

Mary Belle Allen, a basic scientist, conducted her studies in the Richmond KP laboratory along with Ellsworth Dougherty, MD. This photo is from the KP Reporter, 1959

“[We] conducted high quality health services and biomedical research, epidemiologic and vital statistical analysis of the whole variety of medical care processes. . . of different collections of people drawn . . . from the Health Plan membership and by different collections of people . . . males, females, different ethnic groups, young and old.”

Van Brunt continued: “. . . The mission is to use these resources to conduct the kinds of health services research that we feel are important not just to the organization but important in a larger sense.”[vii] Dr. Van Brunt expanded DOR’s research agenda by adding a department of Technology Assessment headed by Director Emeritus Collen.

In 1985 Kaiser Permanente Northern California opened its first research clinic to support the heart disease research study CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults). Within a year it was looking at a group of 5,115 black and white men and women aged 18-30 years in four centers – Birmingham, Chicago, Minneapolis and Oakland. Also in 1985, MMR began the Vaccine Study Center as a way of responding to numerous requests to use Kaiser Permanente’s large population for vaccine efficacy studies.

The center currently operates 31 sites in Northern California and collaborates with Kaiser Permanente’s Northwest, Hawaii, and Colorado regions and participates in several Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health studies.

Studies to better understand HIV/AIDS impact

During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, DOR proved its worth in analyzing the impact of the disease. Kaiser Permanente Northern California was second only to San Francisco County’s public health services in the number of people with AIDS it treated in the initial years of the crisis.

Consequently, Kaiser Permanente researchers knew how many patients were actively seeking treatment, but they didn’t know how many of its members were infected yet untreated.  Anonymous analysis of blood samples taken during routine checkups of 10,000 Kaiser Permanente patients in late 1989 told DOR researchers that 1 in 500 of its members was infected with HIV/AIDS.[viii]

Gary Friedman, MD, succeeded Dr. Van Brunt as director in 1991. During Dr. Friedman’s seven-year tenure, the DOR conducted important research on the etiology, prevention and early detection of cancers; on prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and diabetes; on the determinants of health care utilization; and on population approaches to chronic diseases.

Early research on the effects of socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity on health care and outcomes laid the foundation for the DOR’s ongoing involvement in health disparities research.

In 1994, Kaiser Permanente Northern California became a founding member of the Health Maintenance Organization Research Network (HMORN), ushering in an era of large-scale collaborations seeking to integrate research and practice for the improvement of health and health care in diverse populations.

Long chain of clinician-researcher leaders

Joe Selby, MD, MPH, took the helm in 1998, and former research investigator Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, was appointed director in 2012, continuing DOR’s unbroken line of leadership by clinician-researchers.

Currently, 58 researchers and over 500 research staff continue DOR’s work in health care delivery research, outcomes research, clinical trials, epidemiology, genetics/pharmacogenetics (how individuals react to drugs), effectiveness and safety research, sociology, qualitative research (conducting patient interviews to better understand study data), and quality measurement and improvement.[ix]

Kaiser Permanente’s massive member database and consistent medical record keeping, maintain medical informatics as the cornerstone of Kaiser Permanente research in fields such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, metabolic disorders, dementia, autism, infectious diseases, osteoporosis, maternal and child health, chemical dependency and mental health. Dr. Friedman, Division of Research scientist emeritus, touts Kaiser Permanente data as offering “the best epidemiologic workshop in the world.”

Kaiser Permanente Northern California research also leads or co-leads several national research collaboratives sponsored with federal funds involving multiple Kaiser Permanente and non-Kaiser Permanente organizations, including the Cardiovascular Research Network (CVRN), Cancer Research Network (CRN), Vaccine Study Datalink (VSD), Developing Evidence to Inform Decisions about Effectiveness (DEcIDE), Accelerating Change and Transformation in Organizations and Networks II (ACTION II), among others.

Overall, DOR has a remarkable history filled with contributions to the health of Kaiser Permanente members and the broader community. DOR is committed to expanding its impact through better understanding of the underpinnings of risk factors and diseases, determining methods for effectively preventing and detecting these conditions, delineating the natural history of diseases, identifying ways to improve outcomes and the overall delivery and organization of health care.

 

Thanks to Alan Go, MD; Maureen Mcinaney; and Marlene Rozofsky Rogers at DOR for their contributions in the preparation of this article.

For an introduction to DOR research scientists and their work, please visit:
www.dor.kaiser.org

For more information, including all of the published work of DOR authors, please visit The Morris F. Collen, MD Research Library, 2000 Broadway, Oakland, CA.

Also see “Something in the Genes: Kaiser Permanente’s Continuing Commitment to Research,” by Robert Aquinas McNally, Permanente Journal, Fall 2001
<http://xnet.kp.org/permanentejournal/Fall01/genes.html>

short permalink to this article: http://bit.ly/RM39iE

 


[i] “Perspectives – Research,” [videotape] [Oakland (CA):] Kaiser Permanente MultiMedia Communications; 1998, quoted in “Research in Kaiser Permanente: A Historical Commitment and A Future Imperative,” Robert Pearl, MD, Permanente Journal, Fall 2001.

[ii]Kaiser Foundation Medical Care Program Annual Report 1968.

[iii] The Story of Dr. Sidney R. Garfield: The Visionary Who Turned Sick Care into Health Care, by Tom Debley, The Permanente Press, 2009.

[iv] Correspondence November 1, 1943 from E. E. Trefethen, Jr., Trustee of the Permanente Foundation, to Dr. Garfield; letter is an appendix to the Cecil C. Cutting Regional Oral History Office interview 1985 by Malca Chall, <http://www.oac.cdlib.org/view?docId=hb8p3006n8&brand=oac4&doc.view=entire_text>

[v]Kaiser Foundation Medical Care Program Annual Report 1961.

[vi]KP Reporter, September 1959.

[vii] Interview June 13, 2012 by Bryan Nadeau, Senior Producer Northern California Multimedia.

[viii]AIDS research among Kaiser’s quiet studies,”Carolyn Newbergh, Oakland Tribune, 10/8/1991.  The published medical research finding is: Hiatt RA, Capell FJ, Ascher MS.; Seroprevalence of HIV-type 1 in a northern California health plan population: an unlinked survey.; Am J Public Health. 1992 Apr;82(4):564-7.; PubMed PMID: 1546773; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1694106.

[ix] http://www.hmoresearchnetwork.org/members.htm#dor

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