Health Services & Economics

"The greatest challenge in health care is to deliver better quality care without raising its cost. That’s where we’re focusing our research.”

David Arterburn, MD, MPH
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator
Washington Permanente Medical Group, Internal Medicine

Research overview

Kaiser Permanente Washington research covers many fields, but much of what we do is health services research. That means we’re studying what really works—and what doesn't—in health care, with a focus on achieving the Triple Aim: better population health, improved patient experience, and lower health care costs.

“Reducing the growth in health care spending requires improving the quality and timeliness of care and decreasing low-value care, which doesn’t improve health and may actually be harmful,” says Robert Penfold, PhD, an associate investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI).

It all starts with Kaiser Permanente Washington’s learning health system, where research and practice work side by side to inform and improve each other. Researchers benefit from Kaiser Permanente Washington’s comprehensive capture of rich information about patients’ health, use of health care, and costs. Clinical leaders benefit from rigorous evaluations of novel innovations in care delivery and provider reimbursement.

“Together, we are learning what it takes to quickly translate what works into our health system—and track the long-term effects on outcomes that matter to patients, clinicians, and policymakers,” says David Arterburn, MD, MPH, a senior investigator. Here are just a few examples:

  • Our research on shared decision making helps people understand all of their treatment options and make the decisions that are right for them. So they get the care they want and no more; the care they need and no less.
  • Curbing overdiagnosis and overtreatment is important, because getting too much of some types of health care can be as harmful as not getting enough. Kaiser Permanente Washington is on the leading edge of initiatives to avoid harmful overuse of care. And we’re carefully evaluating these innovations, such as Choosing Wisely and value-based insurance design.
  • We’re studying other care models, including accountable care organizations, a payment and delivery model designed to encourage groups of providers to form coalitions.
  • The rapidly rising cost of pharmacotherapy is one of the most challenging problems in all of medicine. We’re researching how best to price medications in ways that encourage patient adherence to treatment, improve long-term health outcomes, and lower total costs of care.

The impact of our health services research reaches far beyond the Kaiser Permanente Washington system and helps to shape care and policy throughout our region and beyond. For added diversity and statistical power, KPWHRI joins with partners in the Health Care Systems Research Network and other national and international collaborations.

KPWHRI’s MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation has helped to spread the Chronic Care Model around the world, guiding quality improvement efforts for diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. The MacColl Center is also addressing health care workforce issues, stopping low-value care, and helping to transform the U.S. health care system.

Recent publications on Health Services & Economics

Pocobelli G, Yu O, Fuller S, Fraser JR, Wartko P, Chen L, Newton K, Dimer J, McCulloch D, Warwick S, Dublin S. One-step approach to identifying gestational diabetes mellitus: association with perinatal outcomes. Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Aug 17. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000002780. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Sherman KJ, Walker RL, Saunders K, Shortreed SM, Parchman M, Hansen RN, Thakral M, Ludman EJ, Dublin S, Von Korff M. Doctor-patient trust among chronic pain patients on chronic opioid therapy after opioid risk reduction initiatives: a survey. J Am Board Fam Med. 2018;31(4):578-587. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2018.04.180021. PubMed

Lapham GT, Lee AK, Caldeiro RM, Glass JE, Carrell DS, Richards JE, Bradley KA. Prevalence of behavioral health conditions across frequency of cannabis use among adult primary care patients in Washington state. J Gen Intern Med. 2018 Jul 10. pii: 10.1007/s11606-018-4558-8. doi: 10.1007/s11606-018-4558-8. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Kim DD, Arterburn DE, Sullivan SD, Basu A. Economic value of greater access to bariatric procedures for patients with severe obesity and diabetes. Med Care. 2018 May 12. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000924. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Lu CY, Simon G, Soumerai SB. Counter-point: staying honest when policy changes backfire. Med Care. 2018 May;56(5):384-390. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000897. PubMed

Researchers in Health Services & Economics

Michael L. Parchman, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
206-287-2704
Michael.X.Parchman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

David E. Arterburn, MD, MPH

Sr Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Physician, Washington Permanente Medicial Group, Internal Medicine
206-287-4610
David.E.Arterburn@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

David C. Grossman, MD, MPH

Sr Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Sr Associate Medical Director, Market Strategy & Public Policy and Physician, Pediatrics, Washington Permanente Medical Group
206-287-2948
David.C.Grossman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, MACP

Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington; Executive Director & Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
206-287-2988
Eric.B.Larson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Michael R. Von Korff, ScD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2874
Michael.R.Vonkorff@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Edward H. Wagner, MD, MPH

Director (Emeritus), MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation
206-287-2877
wagner.e@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert Penfold, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2232
Robert.B.Penfold@kp.org

James D. Ralston, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-287-2076
James.D.Ralston@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Katie Coleman, MSPH

Director, Learning Health System Program
206-287-2872
Katie.F.Coleman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Denise M. Boudreau, PhD

Sr Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
206-287-2067
Denise.M.Boudreau@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Katharine A. Bradley, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-287-2151
Katharine.A.Bradley@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Diana S. Buist, PhD, MPH

Director of Research and Strategic Partnerships; Senior Investigator
206-287-2931
Diana.S.Buist@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD

Senior Investigator (Emeritus)
206-287-2875
Dan.C.Cherkin@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paula Lozano, MD, MPH

Sr Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Associate Medical Director for Research and Translation & Physician, Pediatrics, Washington Permanente Medical Group
206-884-8241
Paula.Lozano@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jessica Chubak, PhD, MBHL

Senior Investigator
206-287-2556
Jessica.Chubak@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen Wernli, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2934
Karen.J.Wernli@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Erin J. Bowles, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2708
Erin.A.Bowles@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Nora Henrikson, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
206-287-4675
Nora.B.Henrikson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Aruna Kamineni, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2922
Aruna.S.Kamineni@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Judith Schaefer, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2077
Judith.K.Schaefer@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Gwen Lapham, PhD, MPH, MSW

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2021
Gwen.T.Lapham@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Melissa L. Anderson, MS

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2647
Melissa.L.Anderson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Eric Johnson, MS

Biostatistician
206-287-2105
Eric.Johnson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lorella Palazzo, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2173
Lorella.G.Palazzo@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paula R. Blasi, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2094
Paula.R.Blasi@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Leah Tuzzio, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2109
Leah.Tuzzio@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Cara C. Lewis, PhD, HSPP

Associate Investigator
206-442-4076
Cara.C.Lewis@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rebecca Y. Coley, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2071
Rebecca.Y.Coley@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Joseph E. Glass, PhD

Assistant Scientific Investigator
206-287-4266
Joseph.E.Glass@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Amy K. Lee, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2827
Amy.K.Lee@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Kai Yeung, PharmD, PhD

Assistant Investigator
(206) 287-2063
Kai.Yeung@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lynn DeBar, PhD

Senior Investigator
(206) 287-2942
Lynn.Debar@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers

Douglas A. Conrad, PhD, MBA, MHA
Health Services and Dental Public Health Sciences
Center for Health Management Research
Finance and Business Economics
University of Washington (UW)

David Grembowski, PhD
Health Services and Dental Public Health Sciences
Adjunct Professor, Sociology, UW

Larry Kessler, ScD
UW Department of Health Services

Emily Williams, PhD, MPH
UW Department of Health Services; VA Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence