Kaiser Permanente
 
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For more information:
Farra Levin
Email: farra.r.levin@kp.org
Tel: (510) 267-7364
Mobile: (510) 414-9246


Aiming for Best Care at Lower Cost:
Kaiser Permanente’s Support of IOM Report on Path to Continuous Learning in Health Care

Oakland, Calif. (September 6, 2012) – Kaiser Permanente has a long history of working to continuously improve, drive out inefficiencies, and use innovation to carve out a path for high-quality care, all of which are outlined in a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report states that an overwhelming amount of data and other economic and quality barriers hinder progress in improving health and threaten the nation's economic stability and global competitiveness. However, the knowledge and tools exist to put the health system on the right course to achieve continuous improvement and better quality care at lower cost.

The costs of the system's current inefficiency underscore the urgent need for a system-wide transformation. The IOM Committee on Learning Healthcare System in America, on which Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson is a participant, calculated that about 30 percent of health spending in the United States in 2009 – roughly $750 billion – was wasted on unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs, fraud, and other problems. Moreover, inefficiencies cause needless suffering. By one estimate, roughly 75,000 deaths might have been averted in 2005 if every state had delivered care at the quality level of the best performing state.

Incremental upgrades and changes by individual hospitals or providers will not suffice, the committee said. Achieving higher quality care at lower cost will require an across-the-board commitment to transform the U.S. health system into a "learning" system that continuously improves by systematically capturing and broadly disseminating lessons from every care experience and new research discovery. It will necessitate embracing new technologies to collect and tap clinical data at the point of care, engaging patients and their families as partners, and establishing greater teamwork and transparency within health care organizations. Also, incentives and payment systems should emphasize the value and outcomes of care.

“The next generation of health care needs to be digitally connected, so that teams of caregivers have complete, shared information about all patients and electronic access to all medical journals and care protocols,” Halvorson said. “Digital connectivity fosters transparency, allows us to deliver care more efficiently and effectively, and also empowers patients to directly control the care they receive, prevent chronic conditions, and live longer, healthier lives.”

The ways that health care providers currently train, practice, and learn new information cannot keep pace with the flood of research discoveries and technological advances, the report says. How health care organizations approach care delivery and how providers are paid for their services also often lead to inefficiencies and lower effectiveness and may hinder improvement.

Better use of data is a critical element of a continuously improving health system, the report says. About 75 million Americans have more than one chronic condition, requiring coordination among multiple specialists and therapies, which can increase the potential for miscommunication, misdiagnosis, potentially conflicting interventions, and dangerous medication interactions. Health professionals and patients frequently lack relevant and useful information at the point of care where decisions are made. And it can take years for new breakthroughs to gain widespread adoption; for example, it took 13 years for the use of beta blockers to become standard practice after they were shown to improve survival rates for heart attack victims.

Mobile technologies and electronic health records offer significant potential to better capture and share health data. The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, IT developers, and standard-setting organizations should ensure that these systems are robust and interoperable, the report says. Clinicians and care organizations should fully adopt these technologies, and patients should be encouraged to use tools, such as personal health information portals, to actively engage in their care.

Although engaging patients and their families in care decisions and management of their conditions leads to better outcomes and can reduce costs, such participation remains limited, the committee found. To facilitate these interactions, health care organizations should embrace new tools to gather and assess patients' perspectives and use the information to improve delivery of care. Health care product developers should create tools that assist people in managing their health and communicating with their providers.

Increased transparency about the costs and outcomes of care also boosts opportunities to learn and improve and should be a hallmark of institutions' organizational cultures, the committee said.

The report was sponsored by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, Charina Endowment Fund, Inc, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the IOM provides objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public. The IOM, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Research Council together make up the independent, nonprofit National Academies. For more information, visit http://national-academies.org or http://iom.edu.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/newscenter.




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