Viewpoint: Relying on physician's ideas is helping boost pandemic innovations at Kaiser Permanente 

Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente has pushed forward telehealth expansions and vaccine research during the COVID-19 pandemic by tapping into the innovative mindsets of its physicians to build on its digital transformation framework, according to Keith Bachman, MD.

In a Sept. 1 op-ed for Portland Business Journal, Dr. Bachman, an internal medicine physician at Kaiser, explained how the health system has strengthened COVID-19 tech developments such as telehealth. 

"For all the innovations — big and small — healthcare organizations also need to rely on the innovative minds of their talented doctors to succeed," Dr. Bachman wrote, adding that Kaiser physicians "also share evidence-based practices across the country and have developed clinical 'playbooks' that can be adopted by any healthcare system."

Dr. Bachman also attributed the success of large healthcare organizations' pandemic innovations to having an innovative mindset with new technologies before COVID-19. Kaiser began investing in telehealth years ago and now, with the need for remote care accelerated by the pandemic, conducts 80 percent of all visits virtually, which translates to about 90,000 daily telehealth calls.

In August, Kaiser began participating in a phase 3 clinical trial to test an investigational vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech against the novel coronavirus. The health system plans to enroll about 1,400 participants at four sites in California and Oregon. Kaiser physicians have also partnered with the National Institutes of Health work on clinical trials for a potential vaccine.

"While it's still too early to know if this will be the silver bullet that helps end the pandemic, it could be a good bet that such a vaccine will be delivered by healthcare organizations that have learned how to continuously harness the power of innovation," Dr. Bachman wrote.

More articles on digital transformation:
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Houston Methodist, Israel medical center strike innovation partnership

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