There continues to be much flack in about the “email heard around the health care IT world” about Kaiser Permanente’s HealthConnect program and its success or lack or it, and its contribution or lack of it to a potential massive shortfall or profit in the organization’s finances. If you want to know what lots of insiders and outsiders think, go read these comments on KP in this HISTalk post. Suffice it to say that there’s a wide, wide divergence of views on whether Epic is scalable or not, or if anything else would or could work. Given that this is America’s largest health care EMR deployment, it’s not a trivial issue.
But in addition there are wider rumblings that something is going awry at Kaiser Permanente. Given that it’s just coming out the other side (bar the lawsuits) of a scandal where something went very badly wrong in its new kidney transplant program in Northern California, this latest brou-ha-ha is more grist for the mill for the anti-KP folks. I am not one of those, and in fact have been criticized for being too supportive of pre-paid medicine in the past. But I call things the way I see them, and I don’t get any money from Kaiser. So I’m trying to remain “neutral” in what is a highly emotional issue.
Today Andy Wiesenthal, an Executive Director with the Permanente Federation, the umbrella group for the regional PMGs emailed me offering to go on the record. I told him that I would ask about HealthConnect, the kidney transplant fiasco and how TPMG works with the health plan. This podcast is what he had to say when we spoke late Friday evening. It was via cell phone so the sound quality isn’t the greatest.
He was unable to comment on the kidney transplant story, claiming to only know what he read in the papers. But about everything else he had strong and I think relatively balanced opinions–especially as he was the physician executive in Colorado who was in charge of the CIS project that was being implemented system-wide when it was scrapped in favor of the Epic/HealthConnect software system–which he strongly defends.
Whatever your views, it’s very interesting stuff. I hope I asked him the tough questions and in general I think he gave very thoughtful answers. And it’s to his credit that he decided to get his and Permanente’s side of the story out, as they’ve been far too reticent to talk openly in the past. Here’s the interview. There’ll be a transcript as soon as it’s available.