Imelda Dacones, MD, highlights Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to quality, top COVID-19 priorities in podcast

In the latest Becker’s Healthcare podcast, Imelda Dacones, MD, discussed Kaiser Permanente’s rise to becoming a national leader in quality, her unique journey to leadership, and what she sees as top priorities for care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Imelda Dacones, MD

Dr. Dacones, president and CEO of Northwest Permanente, shared her insights in an interview with Scott Becker, founder and publisher of Becker’s Healthcare and Becker’s Hospital Review. She also serves as chair of the National Permanente Executive Committee at The Permanente Federation.

Kaiser Permanente celebrated its 75th anniversary this year and “what a great way to celebrate by being on this journey of improved value and quality for our care,” Dr. Dacones said.

A robust infrastructure with tools and technology, such as Kaiser Permanente’s electronic health record system, allows Permanente physicians to provide high-quality, patient-centered, affordable health care to members, she said. “It’s all built in to help you do the right thing every touch, every time.”

Dr. Dacones also described her path to becoming a leader as “reluctant,” saying that she was “asked, cajoled, and arm-twisted” along the way. “But it’s the impact, and when you believe in the mission of providing quality and affordable health care services and improving the health of the communities we serve, that’s my North Star and why I’ve stayed in Kaiser Permanente,” she added.

When asked about her top priorities with the backdrop of a national pandemic, Dr. Dacones discussed the need to further integrate emerging innovative practices — such as virtual care — into the organization’s standard practices. She also discussed the importance of addressing physician burnout and social determinants of health.

“We are in this together and it affects everybody,” she said. “It has to tie with all the communities across the country, across the world, in how we create social health and wealth that ultimately produces [better] health outcomes and continues to eliminate health disparities.”

Note: To hear the entire interview, visit the Becker’s Healthcare Podcast site.