KAISER PERMANENTE: Outlines Turnaround Plan
Kaiser Permanente has launched a turn-around effort after posting a $288 million loss last year, the San Francisco Business Times reports. Terming the move "an aggressive bid," Kaiser outlined several measures, "including pressing for payments from non-Kaiser patients -- two-thirds of whom stiff the health plan." The number of non-member patients who used Kaiser hospitals used to be insignificant, so the HMO didn't have a system to deal with them. But the number has skyrocketed as other hospitals have curtailed emergency services, especially during flu season. This year Kaiser hospitals saw volume increase 20% to 25% during flu season, mainly from outside patients as "Kaiser's in-house vaccine program campaign kept its own member usage only slightly above average." Kaiser COO Mary Ann Thode said, "[W]e're looking at trying very aggressively to go after that revenue." The HMO will also work to "bring its own patients back from other hospitals as soon as they are able to travel." Other moves include streamlining its supply-ordering process, and assessing "which hospitals offer the best care, and applying that to sister hospitals." Kaiser will launch a new benchmarking system for four areas of hospital use: surgery, critical care, pediatrics, and labor and delivery. The system will include a partnership between doctors, hospital administration and labor. Thode said, "We believe we've got the turnaround in place" (Bole, 3/15).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.