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Kaiser CEO discusses purchase of Seattle system



Bernard Tyson, CEO of  Kaiser Permanente, discusses why the nonprofit integrated health system, the nation’s biggest, has bought the nonprofit Group Health Cooperative, in Seattle, which has 600,000 members. It’s Kaiser’s first expansion into a new market in 20 years.

Among his remarks to Hospitals & Health Networks:

“We’re excited because we’ve had a long-term relationship with Group Health for many years. We’re two very similar organizations with similar histories, so the match just makes a lot of sense. For Kaiser Permanente, we wanted to grow in new markets in addition to what we were seeing in our current markets. This is our first new market in more than 20 years. We’re excited about this one in particular because it’s such a wonderful plan and delivery system that we’re going to build on as a part of Kaiser Permanente.’’

“We’re still working on the strategy in terms of where we’re going to put new facilities, but we’ve made a clear commitment that when we come into the market, we will be building some of our state-of-the-art medical centers in Washington state. We haven’t finalized the plans, obviously, as we’re just now taking it over. And really, now we’re beginning to look at the whole delivery strategy layout, but we’ve been very explicit about our commitment for capital in this market.’’

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Kaiser to buy Group Health Cooperative


Kaiser Permanente, the California integrated-delivery system with one of the largest U.S. health-insurance plans,  plans to buy the Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative.

Many hospitals, physician groups and health plans seek to expand and diversify to help manage their growing financial risk from new reimbursement contracts that penalize poor quality and high costs. 

“The entire healthcare environment is expanding from local geographies to regional geographies and then … national geographies,” Kit Kamholz, managing director at Kaufman Hall and an expert in healthcare transactions, told Modern Healthcare. Kaiser is moving “from being more of a regional player to more of a national player.”

The publication reported that “Acquiring Group Health would let Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser to expand into an eighth market and absorb Group Health’s more than 590,000 members. Nearly four dozen primary-care and behavioral health clinics, four specialty medical centers and one hospital in Washington and northern Idaho would also be added to Kaiser Permanente’s $56.4 billion operations.”

Kaiser is also  reportedly considering acquistions in Michigan.

Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson said of the Group Health move:

“As part of our ongoing operational improvement work and our efforts to improve the quality of healthcare, we regularly evaluate opportunities to engage with other healthcare organizations. This work can range from informal collaboration around a narrow scope to more broad, structured and cooperative affiliations. Our overall long-term goal is to make our integrated model of high-quality, affordable care and coverage even better, and available to more people, as part of our mission to improve the health of our communities.”




‘Twice the health’ at ‘half the cost’


Healthcare Payer News reports that a new kind of health system, with insurance built in, “is trying to validate its primary-care model and disrupt a seemingly competitive regional healthcare market.”

It’s Zoom+, a  clinic network now selling insurance for the first time with a unique — indeed, anti-establishment — low-price model.

Founder Dave Sanders, M.D., likes to describe his firm as aiming “to deliver twice the health, at half the cost and 10 times the delight.”

“At 28 neighborhood clinics and ‘advanced care studios’ in Portland, Vancouver, Wash., and Seattle, Zoom patients get team-based care from MDs, NDs, NPs, and PAs, with same day appointments, telemedicine, health coaching, food and exercise counseling, parenting help, mental health treatment and basic dental services, which will all come as part of the health plans.”

“Over the past nine years, Zoom has evolved into a kind of 3.0 version of Group Health Cooperative, HealthPartners or Kaiser Permanente. It might also be compared to direct primary care networks like Qliance or Iora Health, as well the new health insurer Oscar.”

Sanders said: “As physicians, what we all know to be true are that food and movement are the soul of human health, along with relationships, stress and sleep. For some reason, our medical schools and system perpetuate the myth that health relies in laboratories, and imaging and medicine.”

“Zoom offers those condition management services, but the goal is to spread a ‘culture and ethos’  of ‘food and movement as medicine’—clinics that offer personalized activity training, diet counseling and smoothies.”

Healthcare Payer News says: “If Zoom can serve those populations and win converts from the third segment, while nurturing a strong brand and experience, Sanders said they could expand to other regions and patient populations.” But Zoom does not yet accept  Medicaid or Medicare.



Pilot program to let patients add to doctors’ notes




Medical Economics reports that five primary-care facilities will try a program that lets patients view and add to their physicians’ visit notes in electronic health records.

A $450,000 grant from the Commonwealth Fund is helping to develop  the OurNotes platform — which extends the OpenNotes program giving patients greater access to their EHR’s.

The places involved in the new program are Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), in Boston, Geisinger Health System, in Danville, Pa., Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Group Health Cooperative, in Seattle, and Mosaic Life Care, in St. Joseph, Mo.

“This is really building for the future. We envision the potential capability of OurNotes to range from allowing patients to, for example, add a list of topics or questions they’d like to cover during an upcoming visit, creating efficiency in that visit, to inviting patient to review and sign off on notes after a visit as way to ensure that patients and clinicians are on the same page,” the  principal investigator, Jan Walker, RN, MBA, of the division of general medicine and primary care at BIDMC and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Medical Economics.

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