Kaiser Permanente is preparing to instill its integrated model for high-quality care at sustainable costs in the minds of future physicians. The Oakland, Calif.-based system plans to open an independent medical school in Southern California, with its first class expected to enroll in fall 2019.
“We're not just launching another medical school,” Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson said. “This is really a medical school in which we're bringing forward all the knowledge and wherewithal we've accumulated over the years as our physicians continue to innovate and drive population health and individual health.”
Kaiser is taking the rare step of creating its own medical school instead of partnering with a university like recent deals made by North Shore-LIJ in New York and Beaumont Health in suburban Detroit.
Dr. John Prescott, chief academic officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, said Kaiser's approach is one of several organizational models emerging among medical schools.
“It's a part of the changing face of medicine and I think that we certainly welcome new ideas and welcome Kaiser in this new world,” Prescott said, noting that the establishment of a school was a logical step forward for Kaiser.
A legal entity for the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine is expected to be established in the coming months, and Kaiser will begin planning for the accreditation process soon thereafter. Leaders haven't finalized a location in Southern California, but will begin looking for a dean in the coming year. Kaiser leaders have spent the past five years crafting a plan for the school, which expects to welcome around 44 students in its inaugural class.
Tyson said Kaiser still has to work through the details of how the school will be funded, but the system will consider using community benefit funding to support some of its existing medical education programs. Kaiser already operates a School of Allied Health Sciences in Richmond, Calif.
Over 600 physicians are currently completing their residency programs at Kaiser facilities, and affiliated programs send several thousand more to the system for a portion of their training. Kaiser has 38 hospitals and a large network of clinics that serve over 10 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, and recently announced it would acquire the Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative.
“We have a rich history in teaching physicians. This is the missing piece of the arch,” said Dr. Edward Ellison, executive medical director and chairman of the board for Southern California Permanente Medical Group. Ellison is a national leader for Kaiser and an executive sponsor for the school.