The health information technology professionals most interested in integrated health system Kaiser Permanente's enormous electronic health-record system tend to be from outside the U.S., says Andrew Wiesenthal, associate executive director of the Permanente Federation, the organization of the Permanente medical groups, and point man for KP HealthConnect.
Kaiser's patient base is bigger than the populations of many countries. “They're interested in what we're doing, and they think we look a lot like them,” he says.
But even much smaller healthcare institutions can take lessons from some of the organization's innovations, like a total joint replacement registry with data on 75,000 procedures that allows surgeons to compare the effectiveness of different implants and clinical practices. Kaiser Permanente Southern California uses KP HealthConnect, tied into electronic scheduling, to identify women overdue for mammograms and get them to schedule a screening. Kaiser Permanente Colorado used the data from the system, combined with practice guidelines, to reduce its coronary-artery-disease mortality rate by 76%.
Next up: standardized protocols for all adult malignancies, which, unlike childhood cancers, often don't have widely agreed-upon treatment strategies. “If we find out something good, we'll publish it, and others will be able to take advantage of it,” Wiesenthal says. “The real trick will be to make these guidelines machine-readable and importable, no matter which EHR software you have.