Kaiser Permanente Officials Say They Have Worked to Improve Patient Access to Physicians
Less than a week after the Los Angeles Times reported that Kaiser Permanente was limiting patient access to doctors, officials for Kaiser said they have "worked to remove any barriers and have made it easier for patients to see their physicians quickly," the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. The Times last weekend published internal memos from Kaiser doctors who said that the HMO was attempting to control costs by limiting patient access to physicians. Tom Debley, spokesperson for Kaiser's Northern California division, said, "There never was a policy to restrict patient access, but we did have practices that doctors felt made it difficult for patients to get appointments." He added that the internal memos were part of a "vigorous internal debate among physicians about improving patient access." According to Bob Schultz, medical director of Kaiser's Santa Rosa facility, patient access to doctors at that facility has increased, with 90% of Santa Rosa Kaiser members currently having personal physicians, up from 49% four years ago. Kaiser officials added that patient satisfaction is improving, citing its results in independent studies by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the Pacific Business Group on Health and the University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 9/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.