After observing and writing about CEOs who do not leverage their CIOs to propel their organizations forward, it was very refreshing to learn about the great CEO/CIO partnership at Kaiser Permanente at this year’s World Health Congress held in Maryland.
The partnership between CEO George Halvorson and CIO Phil Fasano is a great story of how technology, data, and analytics power the organizational strategy and mission of Kaiser Permanente, enabling this healthcare organization to become a model for others to emulate.
The non-profit health plan has 9 million plan members, and delivers services in nine states, as well as in Washington, D.C. Innovation and continuous improvement through use of technology and data are the organizational culture at KP, said Halvorson. “We want to be the best at getting better,” he said.
To accomplish that, KP came up with "four pillars of excellence" to build upon. They include:
KP's approach to innovation is similar to that of Tata Steel, an approach which helped power Tata to greatness in the late 1980s. That concept rests on the fact that people who do nothing never fail. And if you try 10 new things, a couple of them will fail -- but that failure is learning by itself. In similar vein, Fasano explained, "We want to fail early and fail cheap."
- Big Q, which is the governance framework that engages KP's top executives in the quality and data initiative.
- Electronic Medical Library and Support Tools, which provide access to a rich repository of medical book and journals, and are used extensively by 300,000 users per month.
- Care Management Institute, where 138 full-time professionals read journals, review research, and ensure that the medical technology infrastructure is continuously maintained at the state of the art level.
- Innovation Centers that are actively engaged in fostering and promoting the culture with quality and safety competitions at an international scale.
Fasano also explained how KP uses the strategic information assurance of maximizing confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and systems. Their goal is also to ensure that systems are intuitive and easy to use. Technology has allowed doctors to see more members and provide far better care than would otherwise be possible.
KP Senior VP and COO, Hal Wolf, provided a glimpse into how KP is engaging patients with their portal called My Health Manager, which, in 2012, had 4.1 million users -- representing nearly half of KP members. This portal allows patients to schedule appointments, view lab results, and has many other member wellness-focused features. Users can access the portal via a wide range of mobile platforms.
In fact, the healthcare improvement and cost reduction goals of the Affordable Care Act were modeled after the KP experience, Halvorsen said.
The KP experience and the financial impact of technology, electronic tools, and data mining, are chronicled in two newly published books: KP Inside, by George C. Halvorson, and Transforming Healthcare, by Philip Fasano.
— Mansur Hasib has served in CIO/CISO and other leadership roles in the public, private, and education sectors.