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Tag: Rachel Katz

An Open Letter to Kaiser Permanente Northern California

I am writing this letter because for two months I tried to get ahold of Darryn Carter, a case manager at your company who was assigned to process a complaint I filed about care I received that I feel was harmful and irresponsible.

The legal and rational reason for this current writing is this: the letter I received from Darryn Carter rejecting my complaint claim stated that I have a legal right to see the documentation and evidence used to make the decision about my case. I would like to see that evidence file, and I have not been able to get in touch with Mr./ Ms. Carter or anyone else at Kaiser to send the file.

The emotional and human reason I want to talk with Darryn Carter–and I think it’s appropriate to share this reason too, given that you are a care provider–is that I believe I received bad care at Kaiser, and yet no one at Kaiser has ever listened to what I have to say about it, despite months of my trying to tell someone. My concern and frustration, which is so strong that it drove me to spend a Saturday writing this letter, is not primarily about the bad care I believe I received but rather the wholehearted dismissal that your organization has levied through an unnavigable bureaucracy. This dismissal has kept me up nights, sometimes crying, sometimes fuming, sometimes brooding, always feeling that special type of indignity reserved for a patient with a care provider who blatantly and systematically refuses to care.

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Silicon Valley’s Healthcare Problem

flying cadeuciiSilicon Valley wants to love healthcare. The industry is enormous and full of inefficiency, which is to say, perfect for technology investment. So it comes as no surprise that venture money in healthcare technology startups has quadrupled since 2011 to $4.5BN in 2015. Moreover, the government wants to invite Silicon Valley-style innovation in healthcare. In January, CMS leaders stated that the next wave of EHR policy will focus on promoting startup innovation in healthcare by incentivizing open APIs and interoperability. Everyone agrees—so let’s just get going, right?

Here’s an important truth to recognize on the eve of what some like to call the “disruption of healthcare”: Silicon Valley and healthcare are fundamentally at odds.

In technology we fail fast, launch and iterate, proudly make mistakes and learn from them. In medicine, the first principle is “do no harm.” Entrepreneurs are obsessed with growth–exponential growth, hypergrowth, 10X growth–and the faster the better. Conversely, in healthcare organizations, progress is measured in months and years. My company is currently in Y Combinator, a three-month accelerator program. I have had phone calls with healthcare organizations that took longer than that to schedule.

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Anatomy of a Healthcare Quality Metric

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In the future, doctors who provide better healthcare will be paid more. When a doctor gives good care, she will get credit. For factors out of that doctor’s control, she won’t be penalized. The patient, too, will be rewarded for taking care of his own health. In short, payments will align with good care, and good care will become more common.

This is the promise of value-based care, which is coming, according to almost everyone. Medicare is pushing it. Private payers are preparing for it.Top providers are tooling up.

And yet, the question lingers — how exactly do we measure quality? Today quality measurement is rigid, periodic, and manual. Here’s a peek behind the curtain of what we measure today — and what’s possible tomorrow.

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Value-Based Care’s Data Problem

Rachel Katz OptimizedLisa is an administrator at an Accountable Care Organization, or ACO — a new healthcare payment model that encourages coordinated, high-quality, and efficient care. Lisa’s ACO facilitates the program at about 100 clinics around California, and her mission in the first year of operating might seem elementary to an outsider: to report a set of metrics to Medicare that indicate the health of patients who had been seen at these clinics.

At the start of 2015, Lisa received a panel of patients to review. She had expected a list of about 600, but instead there were 2,400. For each, she needed to report on a specific outcome or physician practices — like which beneficiaries with hypertension had blood pressure less than 140/90 and which had been screened for a risk of falling.

The kicker: she had just six weeks to submit this data. Most of the clinics didn’t have staff to do the required reporting, so Lisa contracted an assistant to travel from clinic to clinic, collecting the information they needed. About a quarter of the clinics used paper records, so the pair of administrators leafed through stacks of paper charts for the blood pressure and screening data.

In six weeks, Lisa collected 2,400 data points from across the clinics and submitted them to a third party vendor who would produce reports for Medicare. Lisa will wait until August to find out whether the ACO met its goals.

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