Kaiser developing relationships with local physicians

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Kaiser Permanente is unique in Southern Colorado in that we function as a health insurer and a health care provider. This integrated system allows us to provide our members with affordable, high-quality care. Patient care delivery is led by the Colorado Permanente Medical Group, a team of more than 1,000 physicians serving as the “Permanente” in Kaiser Permanente.

Kaiser Permanente physicians deliver comprehensive health care close to home at two locations in Southern Colorado: our Briargate Medical Offices in Colorado Springs and the Pueblo North Medical Offices. In February, we announced significant expansion plans for Southern Colorado, which include opening the Briargate location to members of all ages and adding specialty care services. Allergy and dermatology care are currently available and other specialties will be phased in later this year. 

We plan to announce the opening and location for a new medical office building in Colorado Springs soon, which will result in the addition of more physicians to our care team.

In addition to our two medical offices, our network of 800 community providers is an important part of our care delivery system. They help us efficiently and effectively serve the more than 90 percent of our 60,000 Southern Colorado members who see a network physician. 

We are always assessing opportunities to collaborate with our network providers in order to enhance patient care. In 2011, Kaiser Permanente launched a collaborative care program in Southern Colorado. This program continues to grow and has three main components: Kaiser Permanente Care Connections (KPCC), a comprehensive care management team; our Hospitalist program at Memorial Central and Memorial North Hospitals, which features six board certified physicians who specialize in caring for patients in the hospital; and the Pay for Value program.

Pay for Value provides a monetary incentive to network providers that provide high quality care to Kaiser Permanente members while encouraging continuous improvement in health outcomes. It is focused on population health — participating practices are asked to increase quality across nine measures, including five for diabetes, one for hypertension and three for prevention focusing on colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screening. The practices are then provided financial incentives to hit targets and improve those quality metrics. Thirty-nine practices in Southern Colorado currently make up the program and see more than 30,000 of our members living in this service area.

We are starting to see some positive results from Pay for Value, including one recent instance where we put together a registry of patients from a practice of which many of their patients had not had their breast or colorectal cancer screenings. The practice developed new outreach tactics to bring in many of those patients for screening. As a result, screenings of two patients revealed early detectable cancers that were treated in the initial stages, potentially saving both patients’ lives and avoiding more costly treatments down the road.

When we approach a particular practice about collaborating, we keep in mind that every practice is unique and has its own goals. The intent is to build a plan to improve performance and the health of our members. Not all practices have sophisticated electronic medical records or patient navigators. That’s where Kaiser Permanente can help.

For example, the KPCC team is available to identify gaps in care among members, provide a quarterly list of those gaps to practices and reach out directly to the patients to encourage them to seek care. Our Population and Prevention Services team can help physicians manage difficult cases.

Ultimately, our collaborative care program gives providers resources to demonstrate improved patient outcomes and our members greater opportunity to lead healthier lives. It’s a win/win for all involved.

Dr. C. Rocky White serves as market medical director for Kaiser Permanente in Southern Colorado.