At WHCC21, Stephen Parodi, MD, encourages physicians to work directly with employers on care issues


During a recent World Health Care Congress ’21 panel, Permanente physician leader Stephen Parodi, MD, discussed the importance of physicians and employers working directly together — instead of through brokers — to address the challenges both face, from providing access to quality and affordable primary care to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Headshot of Stephen Parodi, MD
Stephen Parodi, MD

Dr. Parodi, executive vice president of The Permanente Federation and chair of the Council of Accountable Physician Practices, said that working directly with employers has been a revelation. In recent years, the council participated in a series of employer-provider dialogues to increase understanding and pursue common goals.

“There have been eye-opening experiences for me in terms of the variability and understanding of how we look at quality, how we’re looking at the service, and how we’re looking at affordability,” said Dr. Parodi, who also serves as associate executive director of The Permanente Medical Group. “When I think about quality, I think of all those quality dashboards that get thrown at me … that may or may not line up with what an employer thinks is important.”

Another important revelation was how employers assess quality of service, Dr. Parodi said.

“Physician groups may be looking at net promoter scores, or at member-patient satisfaction scores,” he said, while an employer may be considering the simple fact that 3 employees complained within 2 days that their physician’s available hours didn’t work for them. This is an example of an issue, Dr. Parodi said, “that’s not on a member-patient satisfaction score, so being able to tease that out has been really important from my perspective.”

Speaking on the panel, “Leveraging Employer-Provider Partnerships to Curb Rising Health Care Costs and Improve Outcomes,” Dr. Parodi said “level-setting” with employers on the factors that influence health care affordability over the long term is also important.

Close working relationships between physicians and employers will be critical to reaching herd immunity against COVID-19, he said, adding that the two sides will need to collaborate to provide access, educate employees and patients about vaccines, and build trust in communities.

By collaborating, employers and physicians could make vaccines available in the workplace or create pop-up clinics where they are most needed. “It’s not like the physician groups all know where those [places] are,” Dr. Parodi said. “Employers do, and city governments do. And that’s the kind of partnership I’m describing.”

Note: Watch the full keynote panel discussion below.

See related story in FierceHealthcare.