Amid a global pandemic that led to a tremendous spike in the use of telehealth services, Kaiser Permanente delivered its 1 millionth video visit on Jan. 28 in the Mid-Atlantic region. The health system, which serves nearly 770,000 members in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland has offered telehealth services for more than seven years. Kaiser Permanente experienced a 3700% increase in all telehealth services from 2019 to 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At Kaiser Permanente, providing integrated telehealth was part of our approach to care long before the pandemic. As more patients experienced the convenience of virtual care during the pandemic they became more comfortable seeing their doctors online, and we expanded our options to include visits with all of our primary and specialty care physicians ,” said Richard McCarthy, MD, executive medical director, Kaiser Permanente. “For us, telehealth is an extension of our integrated care delivery system, where members receive the same high-quality care, virtually, from the same top-rated physicians they would see face-to-face.”
Kaiser Permanente’s telehealth visits – including both video and phone visits – increased from about 15% of all visits before the pandemic, to more than 90% last spring and have since stabilized around 50% of all visits since that peak. In addition to 1 million video visits, Kaiser Permanente has provided nearly 1 million telephone visits and over 250,000 E-visits (an electronic questionnaire that allows members to get advice or treatment within four hours) for a $0 copay (in most cases), with member satisfaction scores at an all-time high.
“We at Kaiser Permanente are committed to meeting our members where they are, and we are thrilled that through our robust telehealth offerings we have been able to provide safe and convenient care options to our members during this challenging time,” said Ruth Williams-Brinkley, regional president of Kaiser Permanente. “We look forward to expanding our convenient telehealth options through new offerings, such as our Virtual Forward health plan product and our Video Visits Now option.”
In response to high satisfaction and interest in telehealth, Kaiser Permanente recently launched four new Virtual Forward health plans, offering a convenient, more cost-effective product for consumers who want virtual access to care first, with an option for in-person care. With Virtual Forward, members receive virtual care first through options like video visits, telephone visits and secure messaging with a doctor or advice nurse – all for a $0 copay. They receive one free annual preventive care visit in-person each year – with other in-person care available for a fee.
Additionally, Kaiser Permanente recently launched a new service using telehealth called Video Visits Now, which allows the member to receive on-demand video care with a Permanente Medicine physician from its Advanced Urgent Care department within 15 minutes or less. As part of its integrated care delivery system, the member’s doctor will help coordinate follow-up testing, future appointments and prescriptions, as well as collaborate in real-time with the member’s primary care doctor and any specialists.
“With Video Visits Now, our members are able to receive integrated video care on-demand, to help them quickly address urgent healthcare needs,” said Dennis Truong, MD, an advanced urgent care physician and regional medical director of telemedicine at Kaiser Permanente. “We feel that this adds additional convenience to the high-quality care that our members expect from Kaiser Permanente.”
To learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s telehealth offerings, visit kp.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, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group 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. https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/