Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of integrated provider Kaiser Permanente, was recently named to Time magazine’s annual list of 100 most influential people, and a major reason for that is because of his unique take on the future of health care.
With nearly $65 billion in annual operating revenue and 11.7 million members, Kaiser is taking the move toward value-based care to heart and, as part of that, outside the hospital walls.
“In my view, the future hospital is definitely in the home,” said Tyson during a recent meeting of the Nashville (Tenn.) Health Care Council. He envisions the hospital as more of a high-tech center that houses the resources and staff that make sense for the needs of the community.
And Tyson is putting his vision into practice. In 2016, primary care visits to physicians at Kaiser totaled more than 100 million encounters. Of those, more than 52 percent were done virtually.
If a member goes into the Kaiser app or calls an advice nurse to schedule an appointment they have three choices — a physical visit, a virtual visit or a phone visit? And the app also lets members pull up aspects of their health record on a smartphone.
“My doctor is in my pocket all the time,” says Tyson.
IT infrastructure is so crucial to the evolving model of care at Kaiser that the system invests 25 percent of it $3.8 billion annual capital spend into new technology.
One of those investments comes in the form of complex care high-tech centers with which Kaiser has been experimenting. They serve as an option for members who want something between an emergency department visit and a physician appointment. Everything from same-day surgery to up to 23 hours of life observation is done at the center. And after the introduction of a high-tech center in one region Kaiser serves, ED visits dropped by 50 percent, says Tyson.
Why invest so heavily into creating patient-friendly tech platforms? As people begin paying more for their care, they are becoming more consumers than patients, and they’re no longer willing to accept their first option for care. They’re looking for alternatives, often cheaper, and demanding good care, quickly.
At Kaiser, after having your blood drawn, a notification will pop up within a few hours on your smartphone with the results — at the same time your physician receives them. It’s this user-friendly tech platform that consumers are looking for.
And Kaiser’s new medical office concept reimagines medical care facilities as more of a community coffee shop, as opposed to the old model, which Tyson says is designed to “churn patients through.” Taking cues from multiple industries, including Starbucks, the centers are intended to be places where the community can spend time exercising, eating at a fruit bar or taking wellness classes — maybe not even seeing a doctor.
“It’s those kinds of changes, that over time will challenge and test what should be done in a hospital — and that’s really where we’re going,” says Tyson.