Project Themes—Health Care and the Information Revolution
As Kaiser Permanente grew throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the problem of keeping track of the health status of its members became a central concern across the organization. Because of the unique pre-paid delivery model of Kaiser Permanente, physicians were not rewarded for providing unnecessary treatments; rather, providing only the most effective care became an organizational necessity. But medicine was often more of an art than a science in this era as evidence-based knowledge lagged behind tradition. From this era forward, physicians, researchers, and health plan leaders sought to harness technological innovation in medical devices as well as information systems. In the 1960s, this drive resulted in the accumulation of medical data on the entire membership of Kaiser Permanente—data that has been the basis of hundreds of studies over the past 50 years. By the 1990s, it spurred the creation of Kaiser Permanente’s robust electronic medical record.
Drs. Cutting and Collen showing the multiphasic screening data to visiting dignitaries.
Al Weiland (interview I)