Kaiser Permanente, an Oakland, California-based integrated health care network and insurance plan conducts more than half of the primary care visits virtually. According to Kaiser’s chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson, if the health systems want to stop costs from going up every year, it is important that they cut down on in-person visits with new technology and use big data to track patient health.
“We should not accept how much it costs to do what we do,” Tyson said during his keynote at Crain’s health summit in Manhattan, NYC. “If we together continue to redesign, we have a real opportunity for shifting the paradigm of the cost of care and affordability of care in systems around the country.”
With the advent of online communications and mobile technology, the hospital chain has been increasingly using technology to cut down on the patients’ need to walk to the doctor’s office. In fact, last year Kaiser conducted more interactions between patients and health care providers using smartphone, videoconferencing, kiosks, and other tools of technology than through in-person visit.
Health care costs at Kaiser have gone up at a rate of 1.5% to 2% each year over the past few years, but Tyson says his aim is to keep costs flat. He urged all the healthcare leaders at the conference to embrace that mission, not only by using new technology, but also by adopting Kaiser’s payment models. Kaiser’s model of payment provides hospitals and doctors’ offices reimbursement for managing health care instead of for each procedure they deliver.
Also known as the west coast model, the Kaiser model insures its patients through its nonprofit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, which, in turn, supports regional networks of doctors and hospitals within Kaiser that arrange care.
About Kaiser Permanente
Founded in 1945 by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and physician Sidney Garfield, Kaiser Permanente is the largest managed care organization in the United States. It comprises of 3 distinct but interdependent groups of entities: the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. (KFHP) and its regional operating subsidiaries; Kaiser Foundation Hospitals; and the regional Permanente Medical Groups. Kaiser serves nearly 11 million people throughout the country, operating out of eight states and the District of Columbia.