Talking Digital with Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson
from left: Christina Roosen (HIMSS); Jens Holmstrup (Pfizer); George Halvorson (Kaiser Permanente); David Solomon (Zealand Pharma); Therese Oliver (AmCham)
George Halvorson addresses participants
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In connection with e-Health Week, AmCham Denmark in partnership with HIMSS Europe organized a exclusive session featuring Kaiser Permanente’s Chairman and CEO, George Halvorson.

Approximately 60 participants gathered at Bella Center, to hear Mr. Halvorson speak about Kaiser Permanente as a leader in IT/connected care - something that many believe the Danish healthcare system could benefit from.

Jens Holmstrup from Pfizer set the scene for Mr. Halvorson, describing the challenges of the Danish Healthcare system, and the priorities of AmCham’s Healthcare Committee, which is a managing director and CEO forum of healthcare related companies. 

George Halvorson then took to the podium to talk about Kaiser and its success in the USA.  Kaiser Permanente is the United States largest nonprofit health plan and hospital system, serving just under 9 million members, and is unusual in that it is both a provider of insurance and a care provider, and its revenue stream is pre-paid premiums, not payments for ‘pieces of care’.  This changes the incentive for Kaiser, to ensure that all patients remain healthy, as opposed to other systems where hospitals and doctors benefit from damaged patients.

About 5 years ago, Kaiser made the decisions to go completely digital in their hospital systems. Because of these systems, the result for Kaiser has been excellent quality control - the company has won numerous awards in this category.

Halvorson explained that all their electronic systems support these two goals:

  • Make The Right Thing Easy To Do: Up-to-date medical library and healthcare protocols available at all times 
  • Have All The Information On All The Patients All The Time: Each patient’s complete medical record in real time.

Halvorson also talked about the future of healthcare, noting the future sites of care:

  1. Hospitals:  beds and nursing homes, fully staffed, but better supported technologically
  2. Clinic: face to face visits with nurses and practitioners
  3. Home:  this will be a major site of care in the future, with an advanced level of technology including video conferencing (with care providers), monitoring and testing.
  4. Internet-virtual care: ‘Care everywhere’ will revolutionize care delivery through creative apps on smartphones and computers.  This will minimize boundaries for healthcare delivery.

“Eventually,” he explained, “Going to the doctor will be as often as we go into the bank today to get cash.”

The Q&A forum was moderated by Zealand Pharma President and CEO, David Solomon.  Top of mind was how to transfer Kaiser’s system into a national/socialized health care system.  Halvorson noted the difficulty, which is in part due to protectionism on the part of caregivers who don’t want to change the current model of ‘pay by the piece,’ and additionally, data privacy regulations which can become a huge barrier with the amount of data shared about patients.

On the issue of globally inconsistent care on each diagnosis, Halvorson underscored the need to create consistency around the world with knowledge and best practice sharing, which is possible only with online connectivity.

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