The other day I had the opportunity to get a “backstage” tour of the Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect when I first walked through the door, which looks remarkably like a hospital within an office building. However, after spending several hours walking the halls and seeing the innovative technology in practice, I have a much clearer understanding and appreciation of “integrated healthcare.”
The idea of integrated care is simple: make care at all levels more coordinated to improve services in relation to access, quality, and efficiency. Coordinated and convenient were the two words that sprang to my mind as I walked through the waiting rooms, pharmacy, and exam rooms. With most services located in one building, you could have blood drawn and pick up your medication without leaving the building! Perhaps most importantly, the doctors and their staff spoke to one another often so they were on the same page with patients’ care. Given all doctors are salaried and under the same system, they work together, rather than as siloed entities.
Kaiser Permanente was an early adopter of the Electronic Medial Record (EMR), so all visits, medications, personal information, and updates are accessible for all necessary employees. With minimal clicks, your primary care doctor can pull up any relevant information from a specialist, and a pharmacist (located in the building) can see any specific notes from your primary care doctor. The exam rooms are sleek and each room has a large screen so the patient can easily view his individual record and any information the doctor pulls up. What I found most interesting was the use of technology outside the medical center. Many patients are online, emailing their doctors, receiving relevant updates and making appointments. According to our guide, Dr. Tesoriero, the goal is for 60% of all patients to be online. The emphasis on innovative technology streamlines processes, reduces mistakes, saves times for busy people, and takes the burden off the patient to remember all the details. It allows doctors to work smarter, and not harder.
Best Practice Sharing
What I found most interesting were the parallels between Kaiser Permanente and GovLoop, specifically the focus on best practice sharing. On GovLoop, we stress the importance of connectedness, collaboration and breaking down silos in government to improve services for the public. The same is true for Kaiser Permanente in the healthcare industry. Within Kaiser, employees are continuously looking for “smarter” ways to use technology to improve coordination and the patient experience. Once identified, individual branches share this information with the larger Kaiser family.
This was a very cool backstage tour, which gave me insight into the direction healthcare is heading and the important role technology is playing. Knowing not everyone has this opportunity, but understanding how important it is near open season, Kaiser Permanente leaders are hosting a free, interactive webinar series specifically for federal employees. Led by a physician, participants will learn about Kaiser’s fully integrated healthcare delivery model, the organization’s member-centered engagement, the advantages of electronic medical records, the convenience of Kaiser’s new multi-specialty medical centers, its nationally ranked quality and customer service, how the system employs smart phone apps and more. The program begins Wednesday, Oct. 31, 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., with additional dates on 11/7, 11/14, 11/28 and 12/5. There is no cost and you can register here. Note: only available for federal employees in the Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland area.