An Interview with Dr. Steven J. Jacobsen

Since joining SCPMG as Director of Research in 2006, Steven Jacobsen, MD, PhD, has grown the Research and Evaluation department from a staff 60 to 160. He aims to leverage the department’s unique strengths to produce high-quality research that can translate into better patient care.

PQ: What drew you to the Research & Evaluation department?

Jacobsen: Very few places in this country have integrated health care and a defined population. Here, we’ve got 3.3 million members now, who are racially and ethnically diverse. The ability to ask questions is greater by sheer numbers.

What really drew me, however, was the opportunity to do research that could be translated into patient care, to make a difference for our patients tomorrow, rather than engage in discovery work that may or may not have a benefit for our grandchildren.

PQ: Does the department have the internal expertise to take on the big clinical questions?

Jacobsen: I believe we do. The research department is an eclectic and energized group who want to do important research. And we have clinicians in the medical centers doing state-of-the-art medicine and know what those questions are.

PQ: What about comparative effectiveness?

Jacobsen: We do a fair amount already and I see tremendous potential for growth. We’ve been very good consumers of published evidence. But that only takes us so far.

PQ: SCPMG emphasizes evidence-based medicine now. It sounds like what you envision is not just relying upon other people to produce that evidence.

Jacobsen: Exactly. That’s what’s really exciting.

PQ: Do you collaborate with other regions in Kaiser Permanente?

Jacobsen: The directors of each regional research program meet together through the National Research Council, which I’ve chaired for the last two and a half years. We’ve been working together to create the Kaiser Permanente Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research, a collaboration amongst all the regions in Kaiser Permanente.

PQ: Is there support for physicians who want to engage in research?

Jacobsen: We’ve hired an administrative assistant to help with manuscript preparation, and we’ve formalized some of our consulting services.

We’ve recently partnered with University of Southern California in the Los Angeles Basin Clinical Translational Science Institute. The Institute is building educational programs to train people in clinical research.