BBC News Compares Kaiser Permanente to British NHS
A BBC news team on Tuesday filmed the delivery of health care at Kaiser Permanente facilities in Oakland and San Francisco in response to a study published in January that found the HMO provided "better care" to patients than the British National Health Service at a cost that was only 10% greater, the San Mateo County Times reports. Many people in Britain have criticized the NHS, the government-funded system that provides health care for British citizens, for the "poor quality of care" that it provides. In the study, which appeared in the British Medical Journal, three California researchers compared Kaiser and the NHS, which both provide "comprehensive care" to a similar number of patients. The study found that Kaiser "outshone" the NHS in several services. Among the findings:
- Kaiser primary care doctors visited patients for an average of 20 minutes, compared with 8.8 minutes for NHS doctors.
- Kaiser had twice the number of obstetrician-gynecologists and three times the number of cardiologists per 100,000 patients as the NHS.
- Eighty percent of NHS patients referred to a specialist are seen within 13 weeks, compared to two weeks for Kaiser patients.
- Kaiser patients diagnosed with lung cancer lived an additional five years twice as often as NHS patients with the same condition.
- Kaiser patients spent one-third fewer days in acute care hospitals than NHS patients. According to the study, hospital stays account for 17% of the NHS budget.
Neelam Sekhri, one of the study's authors and an Alameda-based health care consultant, said that Kaiser's "sophisticated computer system proved pivotal in providing better care" than NHS. "We really believe, in studying these systems over the past few years, that the integration of services is key. You're better organized and you're making decisions across the continuum of care," she said (Bohan, San Mateo County Times, 4/10).
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