Kaiser Permanente Completes Implementation of Outpatient EHR

OAKLAND, Calif., May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente announced today that all of its 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia are now covered by an outpatient electronic health record. Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect(TM), is the world's largest privately funded electronic health record.

All of Kaiser Permanente's 13,000 physicians now have electronic access to their patients' medical records in every one of their 421 medical offices/clinics. Deployment of KP HealthConnect(TM) began in April 2004 in Hawaii and concluded this month in Northern California -- completing this ambitious effort in just four years. This milestone reinforces Kaiser Permanente's position as the industry leader in leveraging health information technology to improve patient care and service.

"Electronic medical records are a cornerstone tool for improving quality and safety in health care. Doctors should have all of the information about all of their patients all of the time. Only a computer and an EMR can do that work," said George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. "That's true during normal work hours and it's even more true in off hours and times of crisis. During the 2007 wildfires in San Diego as our care facilities within the fire lines were closed, members were contacted and directed to other open facilities. When they arrived, care teams whom they may have never seen before had full access to their records via KP HealthConnect. We can now ensure continuity of care for our members in a time of crisis with this database."

The deployment of KP HealthConnect has proven to be integral to improving patient safety, coordination of care, enhancing documentation, facilitating clinical decision making and adherence to evidence-based clinical guidelines, and provider and operational efficiency. After the implementation of KP HealthConnect in the outpatient setting, Kaiser Permanente experienced an immediate and marked increase in the efficiency of outpatient care, in large part due to now 24/7 availability of members' clinical information at every member contact. Members began using secure messaging and increased use of telephone visits in lieu of in-person visits. Physicians reported that, in many cases, electronic health records enabled them to identify and resolve patients' health issues in the first contact. One survey showed that, with the use of electronic health records, medication administration times and doses were more legible and correct (85 percent), and clinicians believed the electronic medication administration system provided a safer and more reliable communication tool (75 percent).

"The implementation of a system this complex, this broadly and deeply in an organization of our size is unprecedented, so I am extremely proud of this accomplishment," said Jack Cochran, MD, executive director, The Permanente Federation. "But I see this milestone as the starting line. We have these tools, and now we need to learn how to use them to transform the delivery of health care, so it is no longer about how many appointments we make, but about how many problems we solve."

In addition to the outpatient medical record, 13 of Kaiser Permanente's 36 California hospitals are fully deployed, ensuring that 3.2 million members are guaranteed full access to their comprehensive health information, regardless of how and when they need medical care -- whether in the exam room, online, or in the emergency room. Kaiser Permanente's aggressive implementation schedule will continue in 2008, with 14 additional hospitals slated to roll out KP HealthConnect's inpatient capabilities by the end of the year. Kaiser Permanente's members also have access to My health manager -- Kaiser Permanente's personal health record -- where they can take advantage of critical time-saving features, including online appointment scheduling and prescription refills. In addition, users have 24/7 online access to lab test results, eligibility and benefits information, and even their children's immunization records.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is America's leading integrated health plan. Founded in 1945, it is a not-for-profit, group practice program headquartered in Oakland, Calif. Kaiser Permanente serves 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Today it encompasses the not-for-profit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries, and the for-profit Permanente Medical Groups. Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente includes approximately 159,000 technical, administrative and clerical employees and caregivers, and 13,000 physicians representing all specialties. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit the KP News Center at: http://xnet.kp.org/newscenter.

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente