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2015 BEST Health Care Provider: Kaiser Permanente

Author: Juliet Porton
May, 2015 Issue

“Having integrated services like these actually saves lives.” —Judy Coffey

Kaiser Permanente (KP) has grown from a system of prepaid medical care for industrial workers in the 1930s to one of the largest nonprofit health plans in the United States today, with nearly 290,000 of its 9.6 million total members living in Marin and Sonoma counties. It’s become a pioneer in preventive medicine by investing in health education for its members and putting as many health services as possible under one roof, which helps to cut costs, make health care more convenient and improve outcomes overall.
KP’s growth in the North Bay had been steady since the San Rafael campus first opened in 1976, but has accelerated in the last five to 10 years with changes in access and insurance coverage rates. In the North Bay, KP now has acute care hospitals in Santa Rosa and San Rafael, as well as smaller medical offices throughout Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties where patients can receive a full range of medical services. An expanded Emergency Department is scheduled to open in San Rafael in spring 2015 and will join the region’s Certified Stroke Center, Certified Breast Care Center and Certified Breast Imaging Center in providing the highest levels of care to patients.
“Our Marin/Sonoma area has continued to grow in all segments—commercial, Medicare, MediCal, individual and through Covered California,” says Judy Coffey, RN, senior vice president and manager of the Marin and Sonoma area. “Our integrated model of care, our electronic medical record system, and our team approach have let us provide high-quality care at an affordable price for more members than ever.”
Even with the sustained growth of the last few years, KP’s quality and customer satisfaction ratings remain high. In the J.D. Power 2015 Member Health Plan Study, KP received the highest ranking in member satisfaction (for the eighth year in a row) and was the only health plan in California to receive a five-star rating from Medicare for 2015. These ratings may be partly due to KP’s focus on preventive care, with classes, brochures and online resources for members covering topics such as managing diabetes, relieving stress and prenatal care.
Another thing that sets KP’s health care model apart is its coordination of most patient services “under one roof,” or on one medical campus, so doctors know their patients often only have to go downstairs, or perhaps next door, to get an X-ray or fill a prescription, making it more likely that the patient will follow through with the medical advice.
“Having integrated services like these actually saves lives,” says Coffey. “One woman came in for a routine check-up, the medical assistant saw in her electronic medical record that she was due for a mammogram, and they scheduled it for that day. We were able to detect breast cancer early, treat it, and literally save that woman’s life.”
KP is also committed to playing a role in the health of our larger community, in the belief that promoting the health of the whole community benefits us all. The organization provides grants, sponsorships and educational resources for everything from healthy lifestyle programs in local schools to subsidized memberships, and is the principal sponsor for this year’s Sonoma Wine Country Games, promoting physical fitness for those age 55 and older. Staff members serve on nearly 230 community nonprofit boards and committees.
“We really do want our members and our communities to thrive,” says Coffey. “Someone might have an individual condition we’re diagnosing and treating, but that person’s total health—body, mind and spirit—is what we’re all interested in maintaining and improving.”


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