Yesterday I had an opportunity to get an advance look at the new Kaiser Permanente (KP) medical facility in Santa Monica and at the same time get a glimpse of the future of medical care. To say that this facility is revolutionary would be an understatement. While the Kaiser facility occupies a floor in a conventional medical office building on 10th Street and Broadway in Santa Monica; it sets itself apart from the conventional in many ways. First, patients get free parking. In conventional medical facilities patients pay top dollar to park and usually are forced to park in the most inconvenient parts of the garage because the close-in parking is occupied by the doctors. And that is what is so revolutionary about the new Kaiser facility: it places patients first – before doctors… amazing. While every other industry recognizes that their customers come first, the medical field puts the doctor first because he or she makes all of the financial decisions (that the patient and his/her employer pay.)
Upon entering the Santa Monica Kaiser medical facility patients will notice significant changes: there is no reception desk or receptionist; no signs telling you to wait in line, take a ticket or in other ways treat you less than special. Rather, you will immediately see green leaves growing from the wall. (see photo).
You’ll hear soft sounds of Santa Monica recorded at different locations around the city; you’ll see a tile path on the floor that evokes Santa Monica’s sandy beaches; you’ll see a “light wall” that changes and responds to people’s movement (sure to be a favorite for the children who visit their pediatrician at this location); you’ll sit in beautifully upholstered chairs or molded wooden benches – all placed to provide privacy and calmness. (see photo)
You can check in either via your smart phone, at the kiosk or with a tablet enabled aide. The facility has 14 patient examination room – all with sliding doors. Patients stay in one location and doctors move from room to room. The exam rooms have couches, comfortable seating and large screens that enable doctors to share their notes in real time with the patient – thus removing the mystery of just what doctors think and do and enable the patient to become a collaborator in better health outcomes.
Doctor collaboration is built into the facility as the “back of house” area for doctors is mostly a large sitting area that faces a screen where doctors and medical staff can confer, discuss patients and consult with specialists via teleconferences enabled by a large screen and microphone system. The screen’s size and quality are truly impressive. Doctor’s offices are small and surround the central meeting area. This will certainly encourage interaction and team building.
Kaiser has been a leader in patient (IT) health care information systems and that is fully integrated into this new facility. The photo below shows the storage facility for the tablet computers that the doctors will use during the day and the information is uploaded every evening as the devices recharge.
The 10,000 square foot facility occupies an entire floor in the medical building and if successful Kaiser hopes to expand. They will offer primary care and pediatrics as the facility but also patients can do their blood tests (lab work) right there – no more trips to the basement, taking a number and waiting in line, as currently happens at the Kaiser facility on Cadillac in West LA. Also, the Santa Monica facility has a small pharmacy that enables patients to fill their prescriptions right on the same floor – very convenient – VERY patient centered. Dermatologists and podiatrists will also have regular office hours – two specialties that Kaiser records show are in demand for their patients in this area.
This is truly a glimpse into the future of medicine, where everything is focused on patint wellness. Congratulations Kaiser. You are leading the way.