In First, Kaiser Permanente to Open Its Own Medical School


A major health care company has announced plans to open a medical school in Southern California with the goal of opening for the 2019-2020 school year.

When the Kaiser Permanente school opens in the fall of 2019, it will become the first medical school to be opened by a US insurer.  The company has historically focused on innovation in health care delivery and hopes to pass on that knowledge to new doctors through the use of new technologies, evidence-based research, and communication specific to different populations.  Although hospitals and health systems have been attached to medical schools in the past, the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine will be the first one to be opened by a medical insurer.

“Opening a medical school and influencing physician education is based on our belief that the new models of care mean we must reimagine how physicians are trained,” said Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente.

The nonprofit HMO said teachers at the school would be considering the population across the country, which is continually diversifying and requires “greater cultural competency and understanding.”

While graduates of the school will not be required to work for Kaiser, the school will advance work currently being done by the company in education, as over 600 new physicians complete residency programs each year at Kaiser Permanente hospitals.

The next move for the company will be to acquire the legal entity and organizational structure for the new school and then to begin the accreditation planning process.

The school is one of about 10 medical schools currently being built around the country.  The Liaison Committee on Medical Education must approve any new medical school prior to its official opening, reports Laura Lorenzetti for Fortune.

The company plans to redesign medical training using “strategic pillars” that focus on collaboration for treatment decisions, as well as addressing disparities in health access.  Christine K. Cassel, a doctor and current CEO of the National Quality Forum, will lead the project. Cassel is also one of 20 chosen by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The nonprofit currently serves 10.2 million members and is well-known for offering coordinated care in an environment run by technology.  The company was one of the first to use electronic records uses its system to help patients with both basic and more in-depth medical needs.

A major analysis last year showed the company to be closing the race gap in managing heart disease and diabetes, the two diseases which account for much of why African Americans have a shorter life expectancy than Caucasians.

Kaiser Permanente currently has $60 billion in revenue each year and operates in seven regions, including Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, the mid-Atlantic states, Northern California, Southern California and the Northwest.