Is 'Kaiser-fication' of healthcare system a good thing?

Some experts think the "Kaiser-fication" of healthcare in the wake of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be good for the industry, according to a USA Today article.

Other hospitals could mimic Kaiser Permanente's focus on affordability, technology, electronic health records and healing to meet ACA guidelines, CEO Bernard Tyson told USA Today. Reducing lengths of stay saves the organization money, whereas some traditional hospitals' incentives aren't aligned with efficiencies, according to the article.  

Respect for the California-based fully integrated hospital, doctor and insurance organization is growing, said healthcare economist Paul Ginsburg, a professor at the University of Southern California and founder of the Center for Studying Health System Change. "Kaiser is the competitor that causes the most concern," he told the newspaper.

Even if they don't adopt Kaiser's exact initiatives, many hospitals across the country are stepping into the realm of accountable care organizations (ACOs) to save money and increase efficiency, which alarms some doctors, USA Today reported.

"ACOs are reincarnations of HMOs of the '80s and '90s, which were abusive to patients by depriving them of needed care, in the interests of profits for the company," Pittsburgh cardiologist Dean Kross told the newspaper. He also raised questions about the safety of electronic health records.

However, the model seems to work for Kaiser, which announced a partnership with Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland to share electronic records and develop new technology for home healthcare programs. The company now has members in eight states and the District of Columbia, according to the article, and recently opened a new hospital in Oakland, complete with interactive boards for patients to communicate with staff.

"The philosophy we employ in our hospitals (has) changed over the years and should, in fact, be considered by the industry," Tyson told USA Today.

To learn more:
- here's the article