There is tremendous value and benefit to being a research institute within a healthcare system:
- Most biomedical researchers focus on specific conditions to examine fundamental disease processes at the molecular or cellular level. Diseases, however, occur in people who may have multiple medical problems that interact with each other. Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute researchers draw on a wide range of disciplines, from economics to epidemiology to ethnography, to examine a broad spectrum of conditions and solutions in real-world settings.
- PAMFRI researchers are able to rapidly undertake important studies. Unlike academic medical centers that typically see patients after referral by their usual physicians, PAMF patients are seen over years—often decades—by the same providers. The data PAMF doctors and staff routinely collect in patients’ electronic health records are made accessible to PAMFRI researchers in a format that removes any personal information that could identify individual patients.
- The ongoing collection of data that can be shared across projects, plus a nimble research infrastructure, allows PAMFRI investigators to markedly reduce the time from project conceptualization to execution.
- PAMF clinicians and administration leaders can often implement innovations in care delivery, allowing the products of research projects to be tested in a real-world setting. Results can then be disseminated widely.
- PAMFRI researchers partner with each other and with disease experts within PAMF and at Stanford and UCSF (with whom we are formal affiliates) for content knowledge.
The healthcare system is changing rapidly. To design and execute projects that are forward-looking, rather than backward-looking, private funding is necessary.