52% of Kaiser Permanente’s 2015 Patient Visits were Virtual
Kaiser announced the proportion of virtual patient encounters has crossed the 50% mark due to increased use of mobile and online technologies.
Of the 110 million patient interactions in 2015, 52% were over smartphone, videoconferencing, kiosks, and other technology tools. Kaiser is reversing the traditional provider-centric model and is designing encounters around patients to reduce travel and increase interaction.
Excerpt: “With the rise of mobile technology and online communications, the hospital chain has been increasingly using technology to cut down on the need for patients to trek to their doctor’s office. Last year, in fact, more interactions between Kaiser’s patients and health care providers were done virtually than through an in-person visit, CEO Bernard J. Tyson said on Thursday at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
“‘For the first time, last year, we had over 110 million interactions between our physicians and our members,’ said Tyson, adding that 52% of them were done via smartphone, videoconferencing, kiosks, and other technology tools.
“Tyson’s comments aligned nicely with this year’s conference theme of focusing on customers. As he explained, the health care industry has historically been designed around the physicians and providers, asking patients to come to their place of work. Kaiser Permanente is reversing this model by bringing health care services to the patients.
“Luckily for Tyson, unlike many other health care providers, Kaiser Permanente is partially a not-for-profit organization, which allows him to focus on how best to spend his budget and serve patients instead of focusing on increasing revenue-generating visits and procedures, he added.
“‘What we’re now seeing is greater interaction with our members and the health care system,’ said Tyson. ‘ They’re asking different questions, they’re behaving more like consumers, and medical information now is becoming a critical part of how they’re making life choices.’”
WBB take: Kaiser have emerged as a leader in the use of telehealth to increase access, reduce cost, and improve patient outcomes. When used in conjunction with traditional modalities, telehealth can be a significant factor in increasing access to care for vulnerable populations and rural areas, but can also lower the cost of care by reducing emergency department calls and readmissions. Passing the 50% milestone is a significant event, and places Kaiser as a leader in integrated care.