By Sam Skopp
A familiar name to anyone who has needed medical care in California, Kaiser Permanente is committed to adopting state-of-the-art initiatives that are transforming the delivery of patient care. Kaiser Permanente members who live or work in Santa Monica are set to reap the benefits of the latest patient-care breakthroughs, with the organization opening medical offices in the city this May.
While innovation in healthcare takes many forms; telehealth, the use of medical devices and communication technology together to monitor diseases and symptoms, is one of the largest growing areas of innovation in the medical field. Kaiser is currently investing resources into exploring and implementing such advances in telehealth.
“It’s a patient-centered approach to care,” said Tadashi Funahashi, M.D., Kaiser Permanente’s chief innovation officer for Southern California. “Rather than take a half-day off after making an appointment days ahead, and sit in a waiting room only to be in the doctor’s office for 15 minutes, we are offering more care-delivery options than ever before.”
Research shows that seven million patients are expected to use telehealth services in 2018, up from 350,000 in 2013, according to a 2014 report published by IHS Technology. Kaiser is leading the way in the field, offering patient-centered care that is more accessible and convenient.
Scheduled video visits with a clinician, conducted through their phones or computers, is one way that telehealth advances can bring healthcare to patients where and when they need it.
“If a patient is in my office who could benefit from a consult with a specialist, we can have them see one of our specialists virtually. It’s same-day, same-time care,” explained Dr. Greg Saccone, physician in charge at Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Monica Medical Offices.
On-demand phone consults are another tool that allows patients with mild or low-acuity symptoms to connect with a primary care doctor via the phone. Patients can receive telephone appointments with a doctor within one hour of reaching Kaiser’s call center.
Kaiser has also developed mobile and web applications to increase access and privacy for patients. Virtual dermatology is an area where patients can receive remote evaluation and treatment for their skin conditions.
“With these offerings, we are anticipating that large amounts of patients will no longer need to come in,” Dr. Funahashi said. He is quick to note that this technology is not intended to replace in-person doctor visits altogether, and added that there is still an important benefit to face time between patient and clinician.
Kaiser Permanente will be hosting two open houses at its new medical offices at the Tenth Street Medical Building for members who live or work in Santa Monica, as well as the general public. Tours of the facility are on offer and care staff will be on hand to answer questions. No RSVP is required. Visit kp.org/santamonica for more information.
Santa Monica Open Houses
Tuesday, May 3, 4pm – 7pm.
Saturday, May 7, 9am – 12pm.
Location: Tenth Street Medical Building, 1450 10th Street, 2nd Floor, Santa Monica, CA 90401