“Everyone feels that their work is important” – learning about leading primary care at Kaiser Permanente and affiliates

Leveraging member-centric tools for primary care

Leveraging advanced member tools to support primary care at Kaiser Permanente

The quote in the title of this post is from Harry Shriver, MD, who is the Medical Center Chief of the Group Health Cooperative Factoria Medical Center, where a pilot has been under way to improve primary care through a Medical Home model of care. In this model, a medical center has been given additional physician and staff person-power, to attend to the needs of patient in the way they feel is best, with a full complement of technology and process tools.

In addition to Group Health’s primary care leadership, leadership from 8 Kaiser Permanente regions’ primary care organizations are also here, in Englewood, Colorado, for the first ever gathering of this group of physician and operations leaders.

I am still very much in learning mode about this organization, so it is a great opportunity for me to see how primary care is being prioritized in the Kaiser Permanente regions, as well as what the challenges are. In the area of challenges, it seems that these are common across the Kaiser Permanente system and the nation. It is truly becoming difficult to fill positions for primary care physicians – the primary care shortage is not in the distance. The demands of information flow within a highly advanced technological infrastructure are significant, and the need to adapt both the workflow and the technology together are here today, relative to other organizations who are just beginning to envision a electronic health record-enabled care experience.

At the same time, there is an immense amount of innovation possible here, and an interest in sharing what is discovered for the benefit of all of health care, of course. Scott Smith, MD, is the Associate Medical Director of Primary Care for the Colorado Permanente Medical Group, who are our hosts for the discussion.

Today was a review of the state of primary care in the regions and a look at some innovative practices in them using the technology platform of Kaiser Permanente. Tomorrow will be a big picture look at where primary care can go within Kaiser Permanente and what Permanente physicians can do do support primary care in the nation. As Scott said, “We have the building blocks to make primary care work.”

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Ted Eytan, MD