How Kaiser Permanente Aims to Boost the ‘Cool’ Factor in Health

Patients are behaving more like consumers when it comes to healthcare, which presents a unique opportunity to make health “cooler,” according to Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson.

In an interview with MedScape, Tyson discusses all the ways the organization is trying to harness technology to improve healthcare. But he also tells about a nurse who touched his hand in the middle of the night when he was hospitalized after a massive heart attack.

“We are heavy into how technology will enable us to do a better job in taking care of each individual and millions of people, but not at the expense of the human touch,” he says. “The human touch will always be the deciding factor of how people feel about the care that they are getting.”

The organization is working on developing tools to better connect patients with their doctors and their personal health data. Some people know more about the air in their tires than their own bodies, Tyson points out.

Kaiser fielded more than 60 million phone calls and conducted almost 30 million televisits and secure e-visits last year. Patients can email providers using a secure email system. An app allows patients to review and chart lab test results from anywhere in the world. This creates a different relationship with the doctor, he says, one built on unique trust.

“In our view, the technology cannot substitute for trust,” he says.

For doctors, that means they’re basically on call 24/7, according to Tyson, something he calls a balancing act.

“[Patients] are asking different questions of us,” he says. “That is giving us a real opportunityin how we make health and taking care of ourselves cooler, if you will, for the 21st century.”

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