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Report Cards Highlight Kaiser Permanente's Strong Clinical Performance.

OAKLAND, Calif.--(BW HealthWire)--Sept. 15, 1998--Kaiser Permanente, California's clinical quality is strong and showing improvement, according to report cards released September 14 by the California Cooperative Healthcare Reporting Initiative (CCHRI).

The report cards compared the performance of 19 California health plans, including Kaiser Permanente in Northern and Southern California, on clinical, satisfaction, access and other measures. CCHRI is a coalition of purchasers, health plans, and providers. It coordinates the comparative measurement and reporting by health plans of eight clinical quality measures that are subjected to outside audit by an independent third party. Based on an average of all plans surveyed, the CCHRI report rates plans' performance in different areas as "above average," "average," or "below average."

Kaiser Permanente received the highest performance ranking ("above average") on eight clinical quality measures and is the only health plan to have this clean sweep of above-average clinical performance. The measures included cervical cancer screening, childhood immunizations, adolescent immunization, breast cancer screening, prenatal care, check-ups after delivery, beta blocker treatment after heart attacks, and diabetic retinal exams.

In Southern California, Kaiser Permanente showed statistically significant performance improvement over two years in childhood immunizations, prenatal care, and cervical cancer screening. In Northern California, the health plan experienced significant improvement in prenatal care and breast cancer screening. In fact, the only statistically significant decline in improvement were diabetic retinal exams in Southern California, which still ranked "above average."

The CCHRI reports showed generally high overall member satisfaction. For example, Kaiser Permanente was ranked "above average" for members who said they would recommend the plan to friends or family. Members were also highly satisfied with Kaiser Permanente's referral process and the ability to receive needed care.

KP members were less satisfied, however, with the time spent with physicians and the time elapsed between making an appointment and seeing the physician. Kaiser Permanente has developed several new models of care intended to address this issue and improve access to care. The health care organization, which has experienced near-record growth in the past year, has hired some 700 new physicians and 1,300 new nurses. In addition, it is developing new services, such as Kaiser Permanente Online, an Internet-based service for health plan members that provides health information, appointments, advice, and other services.

"Kaiser Permanente has an ongoing commitment to performance assessment," said Joel Hyatt, MD, director of care management for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. "Both Kaiser Permanente Southern and Northern California have full accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance; our medical centers are regularly accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations; and we participate regularly in performance assessments such as CCHRI's.

"Performance measurement results in better health care for members," Hyatt added. "By assessing our strengths and areas needing improvement, we can appropriately direct resources to where they are needed."

"We are fully supportive of the public reporting of standardized performance measurements," said Michael Ralston, MD, director of quality demonstration for The Permanente Medical Group in Northern California. "It's also our commitment to utilize theses measures internally to improve our members' care."

Kaiser Permanente, California, is a prepaid, group practice health maintenance organization (HMO) serving more than 5.5 million members throughout the state. More than 7,000 Permanente Medical Group physicians in both The Permanente Medical Group (TPMG) in Northern California and the Southern California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG), as well as 55,300 Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals employees, provide care to Health Plan members. There are 26 major medical centers organized into12 service areas throughout California.

Kaiser Permanente is America's leading health care organization, serving more than 9.2 million members in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

CONTACT: Kaiser Permanente

Dena Durkin, 626/405-3004 (Southern California)

Ann Mosher, 510/947-3900 (Northern California)
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Date:Sep 15, 1998
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