Director Jason Wang discusses the future of child health at CPOP

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As the new director of the Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention (CPOP), C. Jason Wang’s goal is to improve child health by bringing people together. Since Paul Wise founded the center 10 years ago, CPOP has shaped child health policy by trying to make effective healthcare not only available but easily accessible to everyone. By creating preventive strategies to decrease the risk of getting sick and to avert complications so that patients can return to their former quality of life, CPOP aims to improve quality of care and to make people healthier overall. Wang wants to further promote these goals by encouraging scholars to work together and by applying the latest consumer technology to deliver high quality care.

What are your goals for CPOP?

When I became director, I had a renewed vision for CPOP 2.0: to lead the way in child health policy through innovation and improvement in systems performance across the life course. We have three specific missions that I would like to accomplish:

  1. To conduct transdisciplinary team science research between different divisions within pediatrics and different centers across Stanford.
  2. To train scholars in health policy and health services research.
  3. To support the Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research (CHP/PCOR) in its effort in global health and in transition of child to adult health services.

We hope to build bridges. We start by connecting departments at Stanford and beyond. We also want to improve transitions between care for kids and adults and between domestic and global policy to increase health worldwide.

What are some of the big issues in child health that you would like to address?

One of the big issues that we are particularly interested in is the management of chronic disease from childhood to adulthood. We want to make sure that people are not falling through the cracks. Another area that we're particularly interested in is the impact of health insurance, particularly the Affordable Care Act, on access and utilization of health services for children with medical complexities. We want to make sure that health care reform itself is not harmful to the most medically complex children. The third area, equally important, is to help people understand how to promote good habits for children across their life course. We have done this by creating a HABIT laboratory, which stands for Health Analytics, Behavioral Interventions, and Technology. A lot of the health issues in adulthood stem from childhood behaviors. For instance, obesity leads to diabetes and heart disease, and if one could prevent diabetes by reducing obesity, then we would have a lot fewer problems when kids become adults.

How will CPOP evolve to meet your goals?

We would like to move into the area of driving health innovation. In particular, we'd like to understand what motivates patients and providers. We'd like to rethink the healthcare delivery models to strategically create cost-effective resources in the delivery process and to eliminate waste so that the system provides the highest value. To do this, we're going to try to develop more regular policy briefs and try to disseminate health information using multimedia and social networks.  We want to take advantage of the technological innovations available here in Silicon Valley.

How can working with people in Silicon Valley improve healthcare?

Everyone, even vulnerable populations, uses cell phones now, so we're going to use that to re-envision how to drive health behavioral changes, to improve communication with our patients and to improve care coordination. We are rethinking how we could drive delivery innovations using mobile devices. But technology still has its challenges. Healthcare technology requires security, and we need to make sure that we can adequately protect people's personal health information. Technology is a tool, and every time you get a new tool you have to understand its advantages and the issues that might come up. It's going to be easier for us because we work very closely with a lot of very smart people here in Silicon Valley.