When asked why Kaiser Permanente has yet again been voted Best Health Care Provider by NorthBay biz readers, the most obvious answer comes down to its physicians, nurses and staff—those on the front lines of providing care to North Bay residents.
“Your entire medical team, led by your personal physician, supports your total health,” explains Judy Coffey, RN, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente Marin-Sonoma. “Whether it’s at an appointment, a hospitalization, visiting the pharmacy or at a health education class, your care is integrated.”
Today, Kaiser has more than 300,000 members in Marin and Sonoma counties, and approximately 279,000 in the Napa/Solano area, a significant increase over the past year. Just in Santa Rosa, membership increased by 7,000 members in 2015. The increase has been attributed to a rising population, a larger demographic and Kaiser’s strong brand identity, as well as the Affordable Care Act bringing more people into the health care fold.
Members appreciate that Kaiser Permanente, in general, is also a very affordable health care system, made even more so by patients being able to email their doctors with questions or even conduct consultations via phone without a co-pay charge. This huge network of members has resulted in Kaiser having the largest private electronic medical record (EMR) system in the United States. This lets KP streamline services on an individual patient basis but also on a global scale in doing research.
“Kaiser also has a remarkable research division,” says Coffey. “With a database of more than 10 million members, if a Kaiser physician or researcher wants to look at treating, for example, diabetes, they can see how patients respond to different treatment protocols and help promote the best outcomes. We also publish and share our research widely so others may benefit.”
This information sharing supports KP’s mission to improve the health not only of its members but the community as a whole. To that end, Kaiser gave over $500,000 in grants to local Marin and Sonoma county nonprofits last year, building upon a strong community benefit program that promotes increased access to care, mental health, community clinics and even school garden projects.
Over the past 10 years, $3.5 million has been granted to the HEAL (healthy eating, active living) program benefiting the Roseland District in southwest Santa Rosa. This funding has helped increase physical activity in schools, improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods, built parks, and empowered residents to create a safer, healthier community.
“We’re always improving the service and care we provide,” says Coffey, “and we understand the importance of involving our patients and their families in that process. For example, we have five local patient and family centered care advisory councils. Our Latino advisory council helped us develop a bilingual, multicultural suite of doctor offices to meet the health care needs of our Latino members and their families.”
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