Cancer patients diagnosed at Kaiser Permanente medical facilities demonstrated higher survival rates than insured patients diagnosed at other providers, according to a recent study carried out by researchers at Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Research and Evaluation in Pasadena.
The disparity was found to be even greater among Black and Latino patients, according to the findings, published in The American Journal of Managed Care, Kaiser Permanente representatives said in a written statement.
The study’s senior author, Kaiser Cancer Epidemiologist Reina Haque, said the company was committed to finding and addressing healthcare inequities.
“We investigated survival among insured patients with cancer to help pinpoint factors associated with mortality,” Haque said. “We found that although Kaiser Permanente Southern California had a higher proportion of minority patients and those from lower socioeconomic status groups, the overall mortality rate among Kaiser Permanente members was still lower than in the group with other health coverage.”
The research examined records of nearly 165,000 insured adults in Southern California diagnosed with eight common forms of cancer between 2009 and 2014, according to Kaiser.
“The study found that in comparison to patients diagnosed with cancer at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, and after accounting for socioeconomic status, age, stage at diagnosis, gender, cancer site and primary cancer treatments, African American patients diagnosed in non–Kaiser Permanente hospitals had a 14% higher risk of death and Latino patients had a 23% increased risk of death,” the statement said.
The key may be communication, according to study lead author Dr. Robert Cooper of Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.
“We suspect that the integrated nature of the Kaiser Permanente care system, where all care occurs in the same system and all caregivers are connected through the same electronic health record, may optimize care for patients with complex diseases,” Cooper said. “The long history of connectedness has allowed for the development of systematic practices such as sharing of expertise and safety nets focused on caring for all of a patient’s needs. These practices may help mitigate the poor outcomes for patients experiencing health disparities.”
The study was funded by Kaiser Permanente Community Health, through the Kaiser Permanente Regional Research Committee.