Kaiser Permanente has created the world’s most integrated health care system. It is able to offer tremendous coverage at a reasonably modest price due to a large list of compelling features built into the Kaiser Permanente design.
Let me state that I have no relationship to Kaiser except as a satisfied patient for over twelve years. Also, I am not necessarily promoting Kaiser as the exclusive healthcare provider. Rather, I would like to see the Kaiser model become prevalent throughout the healthcare industry.
Kaiser cannot be described as merely a health insurance program. Rather, it is a wholly integrated insurance program and health care provider combined. And as such, it is in a position to offer the most comprehensive care available.
Kaiser owns the hospitals, the doctors and other health care providers, the pharmacies, and the laboratories. It also owns many specialty providers, such as vision, audiology, physical therapy, mental health practitioners and more. Kaiser also owns the specialists. Because of this patients are never thwarted from seeing a specialist when their medical needs require this.
Kaiser doctors can focus on practicing medicine full-time instead of spending half of their time billing insurance companies. The same thing is true for the other Kaiser health care providers.
Kaiser has a vested financial interest in keeping its clients healthy. The healthier the patient population the lower will be the cost of healthcare. Because of this, Kaiser goes to extraordinary lengths to support patient health and wellness.
In more traditional practices, doctors and hospitals are rewarded for treating the critically ill. Profits are generated not by keeping people well, but in treating extreme illness. Such a focus is a strong financial disincentive for keeping patients healthy. Our traditional healthcare systems focus on sick care, and the sicker the more profitable. There is a lot more money to be made from open heart surgery than there is from cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, nutrition classes, or support for weight loss or exercise plans.
Kaiser has arguably the world’s best medical records system. Every aspect of patient care in computerized and readily available anywhere it is needed, including in the examination rooms. The doctor does not need to waste time asking for the patient’s medical history or asking the patient what drugs he or she is taking, because that information is readily available at the doctor’s fingertips. There is no need to order duplicate tests, a common occurrence in more traditional practices, especially when changing doctors.
Kaiser has a focus on early detection and treatment. Screenings and vaccinations are important tools for promoting health.
Kaiser offers professional support groups for almost any medical concern. Patients on blood thinners can contact the skilled nursing staff at the coagulation program for expert help and advice at any time. Likewise, diabetics have the same sort of expertise available at all times for their questions and concerns.
In the same manner, Kaiser offers a broad range of health and wellness training opportunities. Everything that Kaiser Permanente does is focused on keeping its patients healthy.