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What health systems can learn from Kaiser Permanente: An interview with Hal Wolf

editor Equipo editorial last modified 30/09/2009 14:34

By closely integrating care delivery, Kaiser Permanente delivers high-quality, cost-effective treatment. One of its senior executives outlines its approach.

Kaiser Permanente (KP), the largest nonprofit health plan in the United States, is renowned for the tight integration of its clinical services. KP closely coordinates primary, secondary, and hospital care; places a strong emphasis on prevention; and extensively uses care pathways and electronic medical records. By doing so, it provides its 8.7 million members and patients with high-quality, cost-effective care.

That KP can achieve such tight integration and strong results is especially remarkable in that it is not one organization but several cooperating entities (see sidebar, “Kaiser Permanente at a glance”). All these entities share a common vision: to deliver coordinated, comprehensive health care that keeps patients as healthy as possible.

To find out what other health systems can learn from KP’s experience, the Quarterly recently spoke with Harold “Hal” Wolf III, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Permanente Federation, the national umbrella organization for the Permanente Medical Groups (the physician component of KP). Ben Richardson, a principal in McKinsey’s London office, conducted the conversation.

he Quarterly: What are the benefits of integrated care?

Hal Wolf: KP carefully coordinates the work done by primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories, and others. This approach offers several advantages. It improves care quality, makes care delivery more convenient for members, and increases communication among all the people providing care. It also enables us to find efficiencies that reduce costs, improve or maintain quality, and allow for innovation.

We believe strongly in evidence-based medicine, and we are always looking for innovative ways of delivering care. When we find an innovation that is working well, we want to propagate it as best practice throughout our organization.

The Quarterly: How do you provide integrated care?




Healthcare Payor and Provider Practice, McKinsey Quarterly

Modelos conceptuales sobre la Gestión de Enfermedades Crónicas Collaborative document