Kaiser Permanente recognizes safety nets as essential community partners in our shared goal of improving the health of individuals and communities. Federally qualified health centers, community-funded clinics, and rural health clinics are vital parts of Colorado’s health care safety net, providing quality care for the state’s most under-resourced populations.
Access to care is identified as a prioritized health need in our community health needs assessment. We’re committed to supporting this issue and the safety net through a variety of ways.
Primary Care Access
Recognizing the shortage of primary care providers in the state, we invest in and promote a long-term clinical volunteer program to place Kaiser Permanente physicians, physician assistants, and nurses into safety net clinics. Each of these professionals may serve up to 96 hours per year to deliver care directly to patients.
Specialty Care Access
Our Safety Net Specialty Care Program allows safety net primary care providers to electronically request advice (e-consult) with select Kaiser Permanente specialists regarding their uninsured adult patients. The program also provides specific face-to-face specialty care visits for safety net patients and offers opportunities for medical education to safety net providers.
Thanks to the 100 specialists across Allergy/Immunology, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Pulmonology, and Rheumatology that are currently participating in the program – this resource is available to over 200 primary care providers in the Safety Net at Clinica Family Health Services, Metro Community Provider Network, Salud Family Health Centers, Inner City Health Center, Clinica Tepeyac, Summit Community Care Clinic, Mission Medical Clinic, and Mountain Family Health Centers.
Since the program’s inception (March 2013), over 2,000 e-consults have been responded to, almost 600 face-to-face visits have been provided, and 8 medical education opportunities have been offered. The program has contributed to the care of over 1,500 unique patients, many of whom would have likely sought care at an emergency department or gone without care altogether.
One patient described their limited options in accessing specialty care and that specialty care services were prohibitively expensive: “I did not have money, I did not have insurance. … I was falling into a depression, and they took me out of it.”
Read the evaluation of the program’s first 20 months featured in the Permanente Journal.
Continuing Medical Education
Through continuing medical education, we provided access to accredited courses to more than 100 safety net providers.
In collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), a leading, independent, international nonprofit organization, we award scholarships that allow safety net leaders to attend IHI conferences for training and learning opportunities. Additionally, scholarships are awarded to safety net clinics for staff to attend and present at the Center for Care Innovation’s Safety Net Innovation Network. IHI is a leading innovator in health care improvement worldwide. We share their core belief that everyone should get the best health care possible.
Care Equity Project
Partnerships with the health care safety net are critical to providing equal access to health care regardless of race, ethnicity, or income level. We’re dedicated to improving clinical care for racial and ethnic populations and to promoting good health for the communities we serve. In 2011, we created the Care Equity Project (CEP) to address cultural disparities during clinical visits. With increasing numbers of Americans living in poverty, the Arts Integrated Resources department collaborates with safety net partners to assist care providers in understanding the health needs and challenges of people living with limited financial resources.
CEP presents Loose Change and On Empty, theatrical productions of people living with limited financial resources and the challenges they face in health care settings or simply getting food for themselves and their family. The plays raise awareness and sets the stage for discussion and educational workshops. The program also includes a series of four educational workshops that provide experiential activities to increase knowledge, develop skills, address bias, and promote equitable and empathetic health care. All programs are free to nonprofit organizations and community groups along Colorado’s Front Range.
We awarded a cohort of 13 grantees to work on decreasing food insecurity. Three grantees are safety nets working specifically to increase enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) : SET Family Clinics, Doctors Care, and Children’s Hospital. Grants began in March 2016 and will continue through March 2018.
Weigh and Win
In 2017 and 2018, we plan to fund placement of Weigh and Win weight loss kiosks in up to 10 safety net clinics. The kiosks allow patients to enroll in a free, technologically driven, patient self-efficacy program that includes dynamic feedback and goal setting, optional enrollment in daily dietary and exercise reminders, as well as financial rewards for achieving sustained weight loss. The kiosks will be placed in locations that are the most accessible for their patient population. Evaluation of this project will include linking weight loss achievements to clinical outcomes, heightening self-efficacy to lead to overall improvement of illness burden, and/or driving process improvements in obesity treatment and prevention.