Stanford has launched the new Department of Health Policy, providing a focal point for health policy at Stanford University and the School of Medicine at a time when policy research, decision science and data modeling have played a vital role in the understanding and prevention of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The department will produce innovative and timely research, serve as an intellectual hub for health policy at Stanford and develop health policy leaders of the future,” the university’s Board of Trustees said in approving the new department.
Minor said Owens, who joined the faculty at Stanford University 30 years ago, has demonstrated visionary leadership, conducted transformational clinical and health services research and has been an adept and productive collaborator.
“The culmination of these skills and others uniquely qualifies him to lead our Department of Health Policy, an intellectual hub that will span Stanford’s seven schools, address the interconnected problems of access, quality, cost, and equity, and reimagine the relationship between public health and medicine,” Minor said.
Owens, the Henry J. Kaiser, Jr., Professor of Medicine, and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said he was excited about the new opportunities now standing before the Stanford Health Policy faculty, staff and students within the new department.
“The evolution of the new department is a reflection of the truly extraordinary work of our faculty and our terrific students.” Owens said. “And I want to thank the many people who have supported the creation of the new department, including Lloyd Minor, Linda Boxer, Bob Harrington, and Mike McFaul.”
Stanford Health Policy will remain the umbrella organization across campus — investigating how social factors, economics, law, financial and insurance organizations, health technologies, and personal behaviors impact the accessibility, quality, and cost of health care. The Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research now becomes the new department within the School of Medicine and the Center for Health Policy will remain at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) within the University.
“Health policy research is a critical component of international affairs, as medical outcomes eventually touch all of our lives, from world economics to immigration, the prevention of infectious diseases and bioterrorism,” said FSI Director McFaul. “We know that health gains in middle- to low-income countries lead to stronger democracies, which in turn supports our own national security interests.”
A central theme of the research at the Department of Health Policy will be how to understand and improve health equity. Researchers will address health disparities in relation to major forces of change, including technological innovation, migration, climate change, and income inequality.
“Faculty research will help ensure that health and other social policies are designed to reduce rather than exacerbate disparities,” Owens said. “There will be a particular focus on building a fair and equitable public health system, changing the health-care marketplace, innovating how care is delivered, and advancing new social policies such as paid family and medical leave.”
Michelle Mello, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Health Policy and Stanford Law School, said it was a privilege to be part of the university’s expanding focus on health policy, both on the clinical and social science sides of the school.
"The new Department will help showcase and strengthen Stanford as a premier place for scholars and trainees from all kinds of disciplines to come together to solve the hardest problems affecting human health,” she said.
SHP’s robust training program for master’s and PhD degrees in health policy will now migrate to the new department. Many of our students have been instrumental in research about COVID-19, publishing in major medical journals with their faculty mentors during the pandemic.
“The new department is an exciting new home for our educational programs,” said SHP Director of Graduate Studies Loren Baker, a professor of medicine and human biology. “We’ve been working to build our programs for students in health policy and around the university — and the creation of the department will further strengthen their identity and, we hope, help us create more opportunities and attract more students. We want the new department to be training the very best health policy leaders of tomorrow.”