Kaiser Permanente is a nonprofit, group-practice health plan with headquarters in Oakland, Calif. Kaiser Permanente is composed of Kaiser Foundation Health Plans (nonprofit, public-benefit corporations), Kaiser Foundation Hospitals (a nonprofit, public-benefit corporation), and the Permanente Medical Groups (for- profit professional organizations). Kaiser Permanente serves 24 percent of Covered California enrollees and has offerings in all pricing regions except region 9.
Culturally appropriate care
Kaiser’s efforts to improve culturally and linguistically appropriate services and reduce health care disparities has earned the Multicultural Health Care Distinction from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Nearly one in four Kaiser Permanente physicians — over 3,000 — is bilingual, fully fluent in Spanish, Armenian, Cantonese, Mandarin or Russian. Kaiser Permanente surveys all members for language preference and automatically communicates to members in their preferred language. Member satisfaction surveys indicate that new Spanish-speaking Kaiser members are as satisfied as English-speaking members.
Kaiser Permanente has long worked to improve disease management. An example of this is cardiovascular disease, which includes both heart disease and strokes. While the evidence and means for modifying cardiovascular disease were well known, they had not historically been reliable and systematically implemented. Kaiser was earlier ahead of the nation in systematically implementing risk factor modification (control of hypertension and diabetes, reductions in smoking, lipid management, etc.) across its membership. Kaiser reported that by 2008 the death rate from cardiovascular disease for its Northern California membership had dropped to below that of cancer. That will be true for the United States as a whole soon. Cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States since the early 20th century.
Tools to manage health
Kaiser Permanente’s online tools provide support to members as well as to providers. Members can email their doctors directly, make appointments, view their laboratory results and order prescription refills online. The online Personal Action Plan provides members with a tool to learn more about their health care and be sure they are receiving recommended health screenings. These online tools support Kaiser Permanente’s success in engaging members in health and wellness activities, including smoking cessation and weight management programs.