We’ve known for decades that care provided by our own clinicians at our own facilities consistently results in some of the best and most affordable care for our members, and we’re continuing to build on that strength as Kaiser Permanente Washington, says Jeffrey Grice, MD, medical director of Member Experience, Service, Quality, and Branding.
“When our primary care teams are coordinating all facets of a patient’s care within our integrated delivery system, quality goes up and costs go down,” says Dr. Grice. “We plan to continue to expand the settings where our members can get multispecialty care from Washington Permanente Medical Group clinicians, including extending the reach of our medical facilities in key locations.”
Since 2007, Washington Permanente Medical Group (formerly Group Health Permanente) has received the highest rank among comparable medical groups by the Washington Health Alliance Community Checkup.
Improving access is our first step
One priority in attracting more members to Kaiser Permanente Washington providers and facilities is making care even more convenient and accessible.
- Our clinicians now provide care in a variety of settings in our core service areas, including:
- Kaiser Permanente Washington medical offices
- CareClinics by Kaiser Permanente at Bartell Drugs
- Kaiser Permanente Washington urgent care and eye care facilities
- Visits via phone
“We’ve been steadily building our walk-in and same-day capacity, and extending our hours through our increasing number of CareClinics in the Puget Sound region,” says Dr. Grice. “Kaiser Permanente Washington hiring in 2017 has outpaced 2016 by 19% so far, and includes physicians, medical assistants, specialty RNs, and ARNPs.”
“Kaiser Permanente is on Forbes’ list of best employers, and it’s now easier to staff gaps in our teams that were previously difficult to fill,” says Angie Graves, director of Talent Acquisition. “In addition to attracting new hires, some staff are transferring to Kaiser Permanente Washington from other regions, and we’re creating advancement opportunities for current employees.”
“By staffing up, we’re now able to provide primary care to the majority of Kaiser Permanente Washington patients within 36 hours,” says Dr. Grice. “In urgent care, our door-to-doctor time has improved at our three largest sites and is approaching our 30-minute target. We’re also improving access to specialty services, with a goal of having 80% of patients able to see a specialist within two weeks.”
Engaging and retaining members
In recent months we’ve been increasing the number of members receiving care from Kaiser Permanente Washington physicians at our own facilities. We’ve done this by automatically selecting a primary care provider as a courtesy to new members who are located in our core region and haven’t chosen a provider on their own. To date we have selected personal physicians for 10,000 patients who joined Group Health prior to 2017, and prior to Kaiser Permanente acquiring Group Health.
“Members who experience coordinated care within our integrated delivery system and one-stop services at our medical offices usually become loyal fans,” says Dr. Grice. “Courtesy-paneling gives members an easy way to try Kaiser Permanente Washington’s approach to care and see if it’s right for them.”
Recent improvements in our new member onboarding process are aimed at getting new members quickly connected to our delivery system and to all the services they need — an important first step in retention.
“When a patient needs a referral to a specialist, our primary care physicians are being encouraged to think first about the highly skilled specialists within our own medical group,” says Dr. Grice. “For situations where a patient needs a specialty we don’t offer, or they live in an area where we don’t have a medical facility, we continue to refer patients to the best affiliated network provider for that care.”
Looking ahead to expansion
In addition to deepening use of our current providers and facilities, we’re exploring expansion of our services and facilities in other locations, says Dr. Grice. “We’re planning to invest in all aspects of our current facilities, and expect to build several new medical facilities during the next five years. This will allow us to consistently lead with what we know we’re best at, and what’s best for our members.”