Population Health Research at CHOC

Advancing Health Outcomes Through Research
Long live childhood

At CHOC, we know research can save the lives of sick children. But through our research, we also aim to improve wellness across all kids in our community, not only those who seek CHOC’s care for illness or injury.

At the CHOC Research Institute, we conduct population health research that addresses health outcomes of the pediatric and adolescent populations in Orange County and beyond, so that we can develop preventative care and intervention models to proactively improve health disparities.

Our research considers multiple social determinants of health—including mental, emotional, social, biological and academic—to create innovative solutions to pediatric care and disease prevention. We especially support projects focused on translational research that can be applied to everyday practice. This research works to characterize problems and develop solutions for inequities in child wellness, as well as helping CHOC achieve its mission of making Orange County the healthiest county in the nation.

The large scope of our cross-continuum team, covering inpatient, outpatient, primary care, specialty care and ancillary areas at CHOC—along with a 153,000 life Accountable Care Organization—allows us access to a robust pool of health data to guide our research.

Current Population Health Research

Our current population health research is focused on developing care model designs for identifying and caring for high-risk children, addressing the social determinants of health, developing and implementing comprehensive programs for transition to adult care and developing predictive modeling to reduce unnecessary emergency department and inpatient admissions.

Care Model Designs for High-Risk Children

Our research in this area is focused on creating a care model that meets the needs of all children and families and provides the best possible clinical outcomes and patient experience by:

  • Measuring the connectivity of patients to care and finding ways to reduce unnecessary readmissions. The hypothesis is that timely follow-up with a physician after hospital discharge will reduce re-admission rates.
  • Measuring the effectiveness of telehealth encounters for: clinical outcomes, the need for subsequent in-person visits, the need for emergency department (ED) visits and patient satisfaction.

Addressing Social Determinants of Health

  1. ACEs and Trauma-Informed Care Education

Phase 1: CHOC was awarded funding from the California Attorney General’s office to provide education for providers on trauma-informed care and approaches to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Phase 2 (sub-recipient): CHOC will build a Trauma-Informed Network of Care across Orange County by collaborating with multiple community agencies. We will also create a tech clearinghouse for referrals and closed loop follow-ups for social determinant interventions.

  1. Lack of Routine as an Adjunct to ACEs Screening

CHOC was awarded a $2.4 million grant from the CA Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine (CIAPM) to explore the role of the lack of routine in a child’s life as a co-variant with ACEs. We will study the genetic make-up of children to determine if there are markers that can help us predict a better or worse outcome, and thus, design early interventions.

Transition from Adolescent to Adult Care

Our research is focused on identifying obstacles to a smooth transition of care from a pediatric to an adult provider, such as identifying adult providers to care for the adolescent, parent/adolescent understanding of the adult approach to care, compliance issues and others. This data will help us to develop and implement the most comprehensive care transition program possible, with a tiered approach to care and a structured curriculum that is taught across the organization.

Reducing Unnecessary Emergency Department and Inpatient Admissions/Re-Admissions

Our research is focused on developing a predictive modeling tool embedded in the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) that identifies children with “rising risk,” so interventions can be implemented before the child is admitted or requires ED care.

Population Health Publications

teen girl on computer with dad and brother over shoulder

Population Health Research News

younger child sitting on floor with head in hands
The state of California has awarded CHOC, in partnership with UC Irvine and Chapman University, a $2.3-million grant to screen patients for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and childhood unpredictability to assess how such high-stress events affect the brain and put kids at increased risk of later developing physical and mental illnesses.

kid sitting on rope swing holding and hugging a stuffed bear
In the only known hospital research project of its kind in the United States, CHOC’s Emergency Department is leading a study on how food and housing insecurity impacts children’s health and environment.

black and white photo of child hand holding adult hand
With COVID-19 restrictions keeping more families at home, a critical question has emerged: Are children suffering more physical and emotional maltreatment?

CHOC Hospital side of building
CHOC has received $180,000 in grant funds from the Office of the California Surgeon General and the Department of Health Care Services to participate in the state’s ACEs Aware initiative. The initiative seeks to change and save lives by helping Medi-Cal providers understand the importance of screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and training them