Kaiser Permanente Insurance

The Kaiser Permanente insurance company’s Hawaii division began using electronic health records (EHRs) and a secure e-mail messaging system between physician and patient in 2004.  The move was intended to develop improved communications and record keeping, not to affect the number of patient visits, but comparative analysis shows patient visits actually dropped by 26% in the first three years of implementation.

The report on the drop in Kaiser Permanente’s patient visits appears in a recent issue of the journal, 'Health Affairs.'  Louise Liang says one benefit of fewer patient visits is that physicians now have more time to address the needs of the patients who do come to their offices.  They've also reduced the number of referrals to outside specialists.  Liang, co-author of the report, is a Kaiser Permanente insurance company consultant.

Kaiser's Hawaii division includes 225,000 members who comprise almost all the patients seen by the medical facility.  Its physicians are paid salaries instead of earning fees for services rendered, too.  These differences from the average medical facility make fewer patient visits a plus for the Kaiser Permanente insurance system whereas it might not be so beneficial in a more traditional healthcare setting, according to an opinion posted in the 'New York Times.'

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