Group Health wrestles with patient care

November 23rd, 2016 by Ken

Anyone who has visited the Olympia branch of Group Health has noticed a profound change in the air.   It manifests itself first in the pharmacy where waits of up to an hour or even longer are commonplace.  Spokesman for the cooperative ask for patience as the company changes its computer system to align with that of its new partner Kaiser Permanente.

But, changes are also being discussed at meetings and behind closed doors about the amount of time available for patient care.  The current system allows each doctor 20 minutes to meet with a patient.   Those visits are based on a particular aliment or complaint.   If, in the course of the visit, the patient brings up something not previously scheduled, the doctor is required to send the patient away with the admonishment to make another appointment and come back in two weeks.  Obviously, if it is some type of emergency, then it will be taken care of.  But, most patients are sent away to come back another day.

Doctors aren’t happy with the arrangement.  They would prefer to be able to refer the patient to a specialist for additional care or to be able to spend more time with them.

One of the complaints about health cooperatives is the lack of personal contact with patients and the long waits for care.   Health care professionals at Group Health are talking about this problem behind closed doors with the hope and the expectation that hooking up with Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest health care providers in the country, could put more resouces at their call and perhaps allow them to spend more time with patients.   Only time will tell if the merge will be good for those who use the facility, as well as those who profit from the merger.

(Editors note:   I’ve been a member of Group Health since 1981.   I’ve always felt that I’ve had good service.)

Posted in The Real News

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