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Insights and takeaways from the virtual program

KP International’s interactive virtual program, The Integrated Health Experience, is underway. Over the course of 4 weeks in September and October 2020, health care leaders from 11 countries are taking part in twice-weekly virtual sessions with Kaiser Permanente subject matter experts.

In these sessions we’re hearing about topics ranging from digital strategy and virtual care to physician leadership, and from care teams to community health, to name a few.

Some of the hallmarks of The Integrated Health Experience are the small group size and interactive virtual format. Participants — who may be physicians, nursing leaders, hospital or health plan administrators, researchers, or health care consultants from around the world — can ask questions during the session and receive timely answers.

Below is a brief look at some of the Q&A between participants and presenters from the first half of the 2020 program.

Which conditions are best treated with virtual care?

We have identified multiple conditions that can be addressed with virtual care, often through a virtual triage approach that we call an e-visit. These conditions have a standard clinical protocol which, when coupled with medical history, allows patients to complete a survey about their symptoms, and a nurse practitioner or doctor to make treatment recommendations. In many cases, self-care might be the option. In other situations, a prescription might be necessary.

Conditions that are supported by e-vists include sore throat, seasonal allergies, urinary tract infection, pink eye/conjunctivitis, emergency contraception, and most recently, COVID. We also know that asynchronous dermatology is an effective method for supporting patients. We continue to do research to refine the cases that can be addressed virtually. Given all of the data with COVID, we will likely have the opportunity to determine which type of virtual care is most effective (when is video needed vs. phone vs. email).

How do you examine and measure the COVID-19 pandemic response by the U.S. health care system, specifically in Kaiser Permanente’s regions, and what are the major lessons learned so far?

A key decision we made early in the pandemic was to build a COVID registry within Kaiser Permanente so that we had rapid access to metrics on rates of testing, positivity, hospital admissions, ICU admissions, and outcomes (including death). We had to navigate variability in data that were coming in from the regions. We can then use that information in combination with what we know about the characteristics of our members, the population in our communities, and reports on experiences from others in our areas. We’ve learned that new levels of sharing insights and collaboration are absolutely essential.

Is pediatrics considered a specialty or part of primary care?

Pediatrics is part of primary care within Kaiser Permanente. Most children will see their pediatrician until they are 18 years old and then transition to an internal medicine physician. As with other primary care physicians, pediatricians coordinate care with specialists. Kaiser Permanente also has family medicine physicians, and they will see the entire family. In some medical centers, we offer clinics that are all in Spanish or Chinese. When we do this, all care team members and staff speak that language, and the clinic is typically staffed with family medicine physicians so the entire family can be seen.

What can you tell us about about virtual care and quality?

We’ve done a study on video visits and patient experience. You can read the details here:
Quality, safety, and value in telehealth
Patient experience: A breakout moment for virtual care

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