The Puget Sound Business Journal is celebrating outstanding leaders in health care who have demonstrated true dedication and innovation in the effort to improve care. Honorees include Kaiser Permanente’s Thomas Stoll, MD, for his work in leading and expanding the Total Joint program, including the expansion of digital tools and support for our patients and members.
Dr. Stoll is an orthopedic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente Bellevue Medical Center and has been with the Washington Permanente Medical Group since 2005. He earned his medical degree from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.
Under Dr. Stoll’s leadership, the Orthopedics Department launched its Total Joint program in 2019. The program brings knee replacement care, which was typically provided by affiliate hospitals, back into the Kaiser Permanente system, lowering costs for patients and costs overall. Dr. Stoll additionally helped to expand our joint replacement program to include shoulders and hips. His team also played a key role in making same-day total joint replacement the norm rather than the exception. Total hip and knee replacements used to involve at least 1 or 2 days in the hospitals and then several days in a rehabilitation facility. But those lengths of stay have gotten shorter and shorter, and many more patients are getting discharged with no overnight stay in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility.
The program’s outcomes also include lower complications rates and fewer returns to care, with a whole package for patient support: standard clinical protocols, online education, virtual tools to communicate about recovery, in-home physical therapy, and a nurse navigator to support surgery preparation and recovery.
“While it’s true that internalizing care will always generate cost savings, the goal of course isn’t just about saving money. By performing more of our surgeries within our own internal system, our patients are getting the best quality care,” said Dr. Stoll in a 2021 interview. “I became a doctor because I believe we only truly feel happy when we’re able to help people … It’s immensely satisfying to see patients walking without a limp just a few weeks after a major joint reconstruction or return to their activities following a severe traumatic injury.”