KP 101: Our Research

senior woman walkingWE BELIEVE … we have a duty to continuously improve our care, advance the knowledge of our profession, and improve the lives of not only current members, but future generations as well.  That’s why we measure nearly everything we do for our patients, giving us the necessary insight to better prevent or cure disease.  For example, 10 years ago our Southern California colleagues worked out a way to prevent the majority of bone fractures in older women, saving thousands of members the pain and suffering of a hip fracture (our Healthy Bones program).


WE BELIEVE … we make a unique contribution to healthcare research.  We have over 1.5 million clinical office visits per year in the Georgia region, in addition to thousands of hospital and ER visits per year, all in the hands of our Permanente Medical Group. That volume of detailed patient experience is a very powerful research tool, enabling us to answer clinical questions that other institutions can’t. For example, this month our KP Vaccine Study Center in California reported upon the effectiveness of the current pertussis (“whooping cough”) vaccine, made possible by studying the outcomes of 55,000 KP members. Our results will likely lead to changes in the use or composition of the vaccine, better protecting kids and adults in the future from that dangerous infection.

pharmaceutical safety

WE BELIEVE … in optimizing the safety of healthcare through the research we conduct.  As a result, our patients receive care backed by evidence of benefit and reflective of the latest knowledge.  For example, when the use of a new class of anti-inflammatory medications raged in the US ~2000 (“COX-2 Inhibitors”), we (1) limited their use in our patients until the medications could be better tested, then (2) provided key research data to the FDA showing a link to heart attacks and strokes for certain patients, eventually leading to the withdraw of many of those drugs during the last decade.

WE BELIEVE … a very important, yet often overlooked method to improve the clinical care and service experience of patients lies in first studying, then improving the workflow of the healthcare team. That’s why we’ve heavily invested in patient-centered process improvement at KP. For example, we’ve improved appointment availability (now same-day or next day for your Primary Care Physician), reduced wait-times in our offices (often no wait at all), and improved turn-around-time of phone and email messages (usually within hours).

The research we do directly helps our current and future members, both in terms of their health and their care experience.  We are proud of that part of the KP legacy.

About the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center
Founded in 1985, the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center began as a way of responding to numerous requests to use Kaiser Permanente’s large member population for vaccine efficacy studies. Key studies have focused on Haemophilus influenza, type B (Hib), chickenpox, pneumococcus, rotavirus and flu vaccines. The center participates in several Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies. For more information, visit

dept of research and eval

About the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research
The Kaiser Permanente Division of Research conducts, publishes and disseminates epidemiologic and health services research to improve the health and medical care of Kaiser Permanente members and the society at large. It seeks to understand the determinants of illness and well-being and to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. Currently, DOR’s 600+ staff is working on more than 250 epidemiological and health services research projects. For more information, visit

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