Kaiser Permanente Wants to Use Mobile Technology to Put Appointments at Patients’ Fingertips


By Sarah Gantz

Reporter, Baltimore Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente wants its patient check-in to be as streamlined and digital as the modern airport experience: You buy a ticket online, check into your flight the night before through the airline’s website and display your ticket on your phone’s screen.

Similarly, Kaiser wants patients to be able to sign up for a doctor’s appointment online, get a text reminder, and check in at the front desk by scanning a code from their phone, Kim Horn, president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc., said Thursday at a panel on health data systems hosted by the Tech Council of Maryland.

Kaiser plans to begin rolling out this new appointment model in California before expanding it to other facilities, Horn said.

Horn was one of three health professionals to participate in a panel I led on getting value out of health data systems at the Tech Council of Maryland’s Health IT Conference in Annapolis. Along with Horn, Dr. Patrick Garrett, a senior vice president with Adventist HealthCare in Montgomery County, and Matt Jansen, chief business development consultant on health care at Iron Bow Technologies in Virginia, discussed the challenges of installing and maintaining health data systems, and how those systems are used.

Our conversation returned time and again to the ways data and technology can improve patient health by helping doctors make smarter decisions about care, better predicting chronic conditions before they develop and getting patients more interested in their own health.

Digitizing the doctor’s office experience could improve patients’ engagement in their own health and ultimately lead to people taking better care of themselves. No more hold music while a receptionist checks for the next available appointment, no more pages of paperwork to fill out when you arrive. No more flipping through months-old magazines in the waiting room. Instead, take a seat in the cafe and let your phone buzz you when the doctor is ready.

Horn said the best way to get patients hooked on the technology of health care is to put it in a format they recognize — like a flight check-in app.

“How do we begin immersing health technology in people’s lives in a way that’s familiar to them?” Horn said. “Once we figure that out, that’s going to change the game.”

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