Brief

Kaiser Permanente CEO reports strong use of telehealth

Dive Brief:

  • Virtual visits account for more than half of all Kaiser Permanente members’ physician encounters, Modern Healthcare reported.
  • Speaking Friday at a Nashville luncheon, Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson said 52% of the more than 100 million annual encounters take place remotely. The move not only gives patients convenient options for dealing with minor health issues but also benefits Kaiser Permanente, which covers 95% of its 11.7 million members on a capitated basis.
  • Tyson attributed the shift from in-person to virtual visits to heavy investment in technology — about 25% of Kaiser Permanente’s $3.8 billion annual capital spend is IT-related. According to Tyson, the integrated health system is also piloting mega-health centers that offer exercise rooms, walking paths and fruit counters. The Focus is on keeping members healthy rather than waiting to treat them once they get sick.

Dive Insight:

Other health systems are also looking to telehealth to improve patient experience and expand their patient base while reducing costs. At Intermountain Healthcare, telehealth is a “high priority” as the hospital system looks to empower consumers and offer patients novel ways to access affordable care,  CEO and President Marc Harrison told Healthcare Dive recently. “It would be shortsighted of use not to support that with resources to make it possible,” he said.

Palmetto Health is also is actively leveraging telehealth options, seeing it as an important piece in health systems’ financial strategy moving forward. The Columbia, SC-based system has offered telehealth for stroke care for about six years, providing efficient care with quality metrics and return on investment associated with service, Amelia Bischoff, telehealth manager at Palmetto Health told Healthcare Dive at the Pop Health Forum in Boston earlier this month.

While these efforts are looking toward the future of care delivery, reimbursement has always been an issue, in part because of the byzantine nature of each state legislation over telehealth reimbursement. A large report from the Center for Connected Health Policy examined the current landscape of state telemedicine laws.

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia cover the costs of some form of live video visit in Medicaid fee-for-service, while 22 state Medicaid programs reimburse for remote patient monitoring, according to the new report. Thirteen state Medicaid programs cover store and forward, and nine Medicaid programs — Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Virginia and Washington — cover all three.

Filed Under: Health IT Payer Hospital Administration
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