CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences is establishing a new center to develop solutions for today’s most pressing health problems and build a workforce to address health challenges of the future.
The Oregon Center for Health Innovation will connect academic, industry and community partners for a wide range of projects to improve the well-being of the overall population, and create cost-sustainable health interventions that reduce preventable disease.
“Innovation means asking different questions,” said Tammy Bray, dean of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “Oregon has been a pioneer in health reform, and pioneering ideas and solutions are needed to host a prosperous economy, healthy population and environment. This center is a way for us to continue that work hand-in-hand with our community and business partners.”
The center is being created at a time when health care systems are undergoing a seismic shift in their business models, brought on in part by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and federal and state changes affecting health care financing.
Faculty members at OSU are receiving growing numbers of requests for assistance from businesses, government agencies, public health organizations, health care systems and communities navigating these new challenges. The center provides a vehicle for faculty and students to work with outside partners to better understand and solve these new and emerging problems.
Currently, researchers from the center work with partner organizations to conduct program evaluation and research, perform big data analyses to uncover trends and targets, and develop technology innovations that support health needs and goals. Workforce development initiatives will engage students at all levels in applied experiences, from undergraduate service learning to internships for graduate students and post-doctoral fellowships.
Springfield-based PacificSource Health Plans, a longtime collaborator with OSU, is supporting the center as a founding partner.
“PacificSource has had a long and successful partnership with OSU, including support over the last five years for OSU’s Healthy Campus Initiative and ongoing research focused on healthy lifestyles,” said CEO Ken Provencher. “This new commitment to support the Oregon Center for Health Innovation creates a partnership that enhances the ability of both organizations to positively impact the health of Oregonians.”
Programs with other health organizations also are in the works, said Gloria Krahn, the Barbara Emily Knudson Chair in Family Policy and director of external relations for the college. She is serving as the center’s interim director until a full-time director is hired.
“America spends much more on health than any other country in the world, yet we are far from the healthiest country on important measures such as lifespan, infant mortality and rates of chronic conditions,” Krahn said.
“It will take all of us working together – across multiple sectors of business, academia and communities – to create innovative solutions and cost-sustainable approaches that promote better health for everyone,” she said. “This center can help create a compelling future for the health of Oregonians and the nation.”