This year marks Kaiser’s Permanente’s ninth win for Best Health Care in NorthBay biz magazine’s annual readers’ poll. The news wasn’t so surprising for Tarek Salaway, the new senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente, Marin-Sonoma. “I’m not surprised, but I am very pleased,” he says. “Kaiser’s brand is well known around its core principles––prevention, providing the highest quality of care and exceptional patient experience.” These core principles steer the practice of their brand’s message—Thrive.
“Kaiser wants to keep people well and on a trajectory for health,” adds Salaway. We want that experience for all patients, and for the community, he adds. “One of the main objectives of our brand is to earn our patients’ loyalty for life.” When parents come to Kaiser to have their first baby, Kaiser partners with them through the years as their family grows. For Kaiser, he explains, it starts with the partnership each patient has with the physician and providers. “So it’s not [about] a physician lecturing at you,” he says. “It’s meaningfully developing a partnership to help you achieve the goals you want to achieve to thrive well into the future.”
Kaiser has built a reputation for its emphasis on prevention, with screening and education for healthy practices. As evidence that prevention works, Salaway notes that when it comes to cancer care and prevention, more than 83 percent of Kaiser members are now screened for colorectal cancer, resulting in 52 percent fewer deaths from colorectal cancer from 2000 to 2015. Furthermore, its members have experienced a 55.8 percent reduction in mortality from stroke, compared to 26 percent nationally, and a 48 percent reduction in heart disease-related mortality, compared to 24 percent nationally. “Those numbers speak to Kaiser’s success in partnering with their patients,” he says. “There’s less fear and less anxiety.” Kaiser also offers an extensive ambulatory network. “That means we can meet patients locally, so they don’t have to travel far—locally at a KP health center, or even digitally, through video visits, which have grown in popularity by our members. They may have to travel to a hospital, but if we’re successful, that’s not a frequent occurrence.”
Kaiser leads the way in health care as a model for success. Prevention is the key to achieving and sustaining health, rather than simply filling hospital beds. “Success has to be defined around core elements of performance,” he says. “Around elements such as clinical quality and patient experience. It cannot be driven simply by how many patients you’ve seen.” And at Kaiser, the physicians are held equally accountable to quality and patient service. Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to community is another factor that drew Salaway to the organization. “I think what I’m most proud of in working for Kaiser is their absolute commitment to our communities, in living, providing quality health care, but also, as a nonprofit organization, as a partner to our community in so many other ways. What attracted me is its real, keen sense of community responsibility.”
Kaiser helps communities by helping the under-served populations, with focus on eating and active living, behavioral health, early childhood education and access to care and coverage. The hospital also provide grants to the local community clinics. “Kaiser is committed to being the community’s health partner for life,” he says. “How we measure our performance every day is toward achieving that goal. So I want to thank our community members who have entrusted us with care, and I want them to know we’re committed to continuing to earn that relationship.”
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