Leadership Message

A message from the vice president for research and innovation

The best cure? Everyday prevention

At Kaiser Permanente, we believe the best way to triumph over illness is to prevent it from happening in the first place. And when illness or injury does occur, treatment should be as effective and patient-centered as possible. With this in mind, we focus on discovering practical solutions that people can use every day to improve their health and health care.

American health care faces unprecedented challenges—especially as our population ages and people with chronic conditions live longer. At the same time, medical research is making tremendous advances in areas including information technology, vaccine development, and health behavior change.

Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) has been on the leading edge of such change with breakthroughs including:

  • helping millions to stop smoking;
  • improving cancer screening;
  • delaying the onset of dementia in the elderly;
  • improving the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs, vaccines, medical devices, and imaging; and
  • transforming the medical practices nationwide so patients can stay healthy and get the care they need.

Integrating research and care

Much of our success comes from our Institute’s role within Kaiser Permanente, an integrated health plan that provides both care and coverage. Like our nation, Kaiser Permanente must address problems holistically—balancing efforts to improve quality, lower cost, and sustain access for its population.

We take pride that Kaiser Permanente is a “learning health system”—a living laboratory for innovation—where KPWHRI scientists work closely with care-delivery system leaders. Rather than working in experimental environments, we gather data in real time from clinical settings, making our findings relevant to patients and health care providers elsewhere. And we participate in large networks of similar research institutes, adding statistical power to our discoveries.

At KPWHRI, our research teams provide evidence that matters to those improving care for Kaiser Permenente members and the nation.


Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH
Vice President for Research and Innovation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington
Executive Director & Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

notes from Eric

Tackling opioids: Rethinking pain management

Kaiser Permanente Washington can use its expertise in non-drug pain management to advance alternatives to the "medicalized" approach.

Addressing economic disparity while growing membership: Lowering cost is essential

It's time for Kaiser Permanente Washington to make smaller premiums a key performance metric.

Personalizing care when life expectancy is short

Dr. Eric B. Larson explores how prevention, testing, and treatment must be tailored to meet the needs of patients in late life.

Read about it in LinkedIn Pulse.