"The most direct way to think about it is how a person defines health rather than how a medical system defines health. If you ask people about their health, they talk not just about fear of disease," says Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, Kaiser Permanente's senior vice president, community benefit, research and health policy. "They don't draw the boundaries that [healthcare] professionals draw around that."
KP has taken an approach to take on the spectrum of levers that can influence a person's health. It does not constrain itself to the management of chronic disease and prevention, but has interest in community-based programs.
For example, a typical provider may prescribe an overweight patient to lose weight by eating healthier food and getting more exercise. But what is the health system doing to provide those resources? Some health systems will embrace KP's idea of supporting community walking trails, adding farmers' markets for local produce in urban food deserts, or working with schools to build healthier lunch menus.
Other health systems across the country are working on similar programs to various degrees, but whether they will place their hands on the steering wheel of overall "health" to drive down costs is an open question.
To learn more about Kaiser Permanente's Model for building community health and patient engagement, register for the HealthLeaders Media Rounds live/simulcast Kaiser Permanente's Model for Total Health from Washington, DC on October 16.