The US health care system has been slow to adopt Internet, mobile, and video technologies, which have the capability to engage patients in their own care, increase patients’ access to providers, and possibly improve the quality of care while reducing costs. Nevertheless, there are some pockets of progress, including Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC). In 2008 KPNC implemented an inpatient and ambulatory care electronic health record system for its 3.4 million members and developed a suite of patient-friendly Internet, mobile, and video tools. KPNC has achieved many successes. For example, the number of virtual “visits” grew from 4.1 million in 2008 to an estimated 10.5 million in 2013. This article describes KPNC’s experience with Internet, mobile, and video technologies and the obstacles faced by other health care providers interested in embracing them. The obstacles include the predominant fee-for-service payment model, which does not reimburse for virtual visits; the considerable investment needed to deploy these technologies; and physician buy-in.

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Copyrighted and published by Project HOPE/Health Affairs as Kaiser Permanente Northern California: Current Experiences with Internet, Mobile, and Video Technologies, by Robert M. Pearl, MD, Executive Director & CEO, The Permanente Medical Group, February 2014, vol. 33 no. 2 251-257. The published article is archived and available online at