Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Medical Contact Center

It seems the harder I try the behinder I get in keeping up with new developments in the world of medicine.  This morning I picked up a copy of The Hillsboro Tribune, a local paper I seldom stop to read.  This article jumped off the page, a 400-employee 'contact center' is coming to my town.

It seems Kaiser Permanente is responsible for this facility that will house all of the region's appointing and advice nurse services, as well as a physician-led virtual care team.  That's a lot of stuff.

They seem to think bringing all these services together in one facility will give their members a seamless experience whether they are calling for an appointment, need to talk to a nurse, or schedule a virtual visit with a physician.

I was most interested in how these virtual visits with a physician will take place.  It seems an ambulance service will dispatch paramedics for nonemergency visits to the patient's home where the paramedic will facilitate video consultation with the physician stationed at the contact center.

No in-person services will be provided through this center.  If you wish to speak face-to-face with someone you will still need to visit a medical facility.

First I have heard of such a thing.  Makes my brain spin.  What are the people up the chain of command at Kaiser Permanente up to with such a service? No doubt they expect it to bring down medical costs.

Now about that virtual visit with a physician, what do you think that will cost?  Doesn't sound cheap to me.  Is that cheaper than an ER visit?  Better than an ER visit?

We don't have coverage with Kaiser Permanente but I think it is kind of everything in one package.  This will no doubt work for them.  Would it work for us with our insurance coverage, I do not know. I question if it would pay for a virtual visit with a physician but maybe so.

Keep your eyes open, change is happening all around us.  What do you think of this kind of center?


  1. I've never heard of such a thing. Virtual visit? Sounds worse than science fiction. I guess my mind is in the horse and buggy days ...
    I don't think that I would trust such a thing, I already don't trust doctors.

  2. I have my doubts. I wonder if insurance will pay to have a paramedic send you a bill along with the doctor. Like you, I can't see it being a bit cheaper. Strange.

  3. It is so strange it might work. Whenever I say that will never fly it does. I agree. How will insurance work with this.

  4. It looks like our Group Health Co-op will be merging with Kaiser Permanente in the near future. Does that mean my calls for appointments will go through Hillsboro? We do have doctor/ patient email and scheduled phone appointments, but nothing like these virtual appointments yet.

    1. I found all this very interesting. Kaiser Permanente is big in the PNW but was a real failure in Texas. Not sure why. Hear very good things about it here. I think they're so big, & apparently able to so their own insurance, that they have resources to do things other hospitals can't do. I'd love to know how all this turns out.