The science of improving health care

Investigators in Kaiser Permanente Southern California have built a robust portfolio of health systems research. This contributes to a culture of continual learning and improvement within our health care system and influences clinical practices in the broader health care community.

Researchers work closely with clinicians, quality improvement programs, and organizational leaders to identify clinically relevant questions and move actionable findings into practice. We employ a wide range methodologies and disciplines, tapping into the expertise of all 5 of our scientific divisions.

In addition to encouraging investigators to build their own programs of health systems research—sometimes called operational research—the department supports formal programs, such as the Care Improvement Research Team and the Clinician Investigator Program.

Care Improvement Research Team

The CIRT is a research-operations partnership located within the Department of Research & Evaluation that conducts both internally focused and externally funded research to improve the care we provide to Kaiser Permanente members. The team is embedded in Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s ecosystem of continual quality improvement. Through partnerships with clinicians, members, and operational leaders, the team aims to reduce unnecessary practice variation, increase affordability, and improve care. Learn more about CIRT.

Clinician Investigator Program

Practicing physicians play a crucial role in our research program by identifying real-world clinical challenges and translating findings back into practice. Recognizing this, the Southern California Permanente Medical Group sponsors a Clinician Investigator Program to provide a formal pathway for physicians to build research portfolios that enrich their professional practice. Appointees are selected through a competitive process, which includes submitting a detailed research project proposal focused on research questions that have the potential to improve the quality of care we provide to our members.

High-impact research portfolio

Our research is contributing to practice improvements within Kaiser Permanente and in the broader community. Our findings inform and advance quality improvement initiatives within Kaiser Permanente, sparking new outreach programs, improving safety net programs, and validating online tools for members. It informs regulatory decision-making and practice guidelines. Research has also prompted the creation of best practice alerts and decision-support tools within our electronic health record system, Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®.

The following stories from our 2017 Annual Report are just a small sample of our growing portfolio of high-impact research.