Kaiser Permanente’s heavy investment in information technology seems to be paying off, as more than half of the insurer’s 100 million-plus member–physician interactions now take place virtually. Members have said they appreciate the convenience of being able to “see” a doctor outside the office, reflecting broader trends toward healthcare consumerism (especially among young adults). The fact that 95% of Kaiser Permanente members are covered on a capitated basis frees network physicians from worries other clinicians may have about getting paid on telehealth visits in a timely manner. CEO Bernard Tyson has said his company recognizes that more of its members prefer home-based care over traveling to medical facilities, and so is adopting more technology that will enable—and minimize the cost of—telehealth visits for relatively low-acuity complaints. Visionary urgent care operators were quick to see the value of providing convenient access to patients who didn’t want to wait days to see their “regular doctor,” so it stands to reason that at least some will seize on the growing popularity of telemedicine to beat larger, slower-moving healthcare entities to the punch.
Over Half of Kaiser Permanente Member–Physician Encounters Are Now Virtual