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Teamwork, Technology, and Coordinated Care Improve Outcomes and Lower Costs
Date:7/24/2009

SILVER SPRING, Md., July 24 /PRNewswire/ -- A national forum hosted by the Kaiser Permanente Health Care Institute and the National Labor College highlighted best practices for ensuring high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Speakers discussed proven strategies for incentivizing coordinated care and better outcomes.

"Changing the way we cover health care, without actually reforming care delivery is a mistake," said George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. "As a nation, we need to improve access to care, reduce costs and ensure quality care for all. Team-based care, supported by technology, is essential to achieving that vision."

Speakers emphasized how improving outcomes and lowering costs are possible with coordinated care by teams of people supported by the right technology and information. Kaiser Permanente's approach is fueled by a unique high-performance partnership with the unions representing 96,000 employees. A Kaiser Permanente Colorado-based care team comprising physicians, clinical pharmacists, nurses, and medical assistants showed how this unique approach helps staff integrate technology and collaboration, significantly improving high blood pressure control and reduced heart disease risk for hundreds of patients.

Using the teamwork tools of their labor management partnership, the Colorado team designed a new process to use data from Kaiser Permanente's electronic health record Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect(R), to identify at-risk patients and engage them regarding their condition. A special rapid-flow hypertension clinic was set up to perform blood pressure tests, adjust medications, and discuss treatment plans. Patients were called every three weeks to improve compliance. After two years, more patients -- 70 percent versus 60 percent -- had their blood pressure levels under control.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney discussed the importance of improving care delivery through coordination as a component of health care reform. "The compelling thing about coordinated care, fueled by employee team-based innovation, is that it results in higher quality care at a lower cost," said Sweeney. "We need to have both built into any new approach to universal health care. We are proud of the unique way workers and unions are leading delivery system reform at Kaiser Permanente."

Governor Martin O'Malley (D-Md.) delivered a keynote address at the event discussing health care reform from the state perspective, stressing the need for policy action at the federal level. The Governor emphasized the importance of electronic health records to reduce medical errors, coordinate care among different medical facilities, and share medical information during public health emergencies.

William E. Scheuerman, National Labor College president, said: "The Kaiser Permanente Health Care Institute at the NLC works to keep our union members informed of the fast-paced, complex issues in health care. Through programs like today's conference and health care courses on key topics, we're helping union members hold on to their most vital benefits."

Through their unique Labor Management Partnership agreement, Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions jointly established the Kaiser Permanente Health Care Institute at the National Labor College, which hosted the annual event to inform union leaders and allied organizations about new developments in health care.

For more information about the Labor Management Partnership and many additional examples of how Kaiser Permanente's care teams are reforming health care delivery every day, visit www.lmppartnership.org.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.

About the National Labor College

Established as a training center by AFL-CIO in 1969 to strengthen union member education and organizing skills, the NLC is now the nation's only accredited higher education institution devoted exclusively to educating union leaders, members and activists. The NLC became a degree granting college in 1997. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent, regional accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.


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