Adversity and crisis can test the character and commitment of individuals and organizations. At Kaiser Permanente, meeting the many challenges we faced in 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed the dedication and passion of our people, the strength of our organization, and the power we have to improve lives.
Through 3 major COVID-19 surges that impacted our lives and our work, we focused on providing high-quality, affordable, equitable health care. We educated people on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and provided safe and timely vaccinations.
Throughout the year, we administered more than 10.5 million vaccine doses, conducted 9.4 million COVID-19 diagnostic tests, and cared for more than 808,000 patients with COVID-19, including 62,500 patients who needed to be hospitalized for treatment.
Ensuring equity in health care delivery
Everyone deserves high-quality health care, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, where a person lives, income, or other factors. The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated the unfortunate reality that race and ethnicity significantly affect a person’s health. Black, Latino, and Indigenous people are about twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people.
We further emphasized our long-standing commitment to caring for our members without bias. We did this by striving to eliminate health disparities and actively working to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine and treatment for COVID-19.
In 2021, we also renewed our 75-year commitment to fighting racism and promoting equity. We awarded $8.15 million in grants to organizations seeking to end racism, helped establish the Stop Anti-Asian Hate and Violence Initiative, and worked to improve health outcomes among all races and ethnicities.
Investing in our communities
We know that many factors impact health, including having a safe place to live, money to pay bills, access to healthy meals, and meaningful social connections. That’s why in 2021, we supported our communities in many ways:
We addressed homelessness by creating 6,000 interim or permanent supportive housing units, housing over 8,200 individuals experiencing homelessness.
We increased spending with small suppliers and businesses owned by women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups to $2.98 billion in 2021 — a nearly 48% increase over pre-pandemic levels.
Offering easier ways to get care
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic sharply increased demand for telehealth and remote care, as members reduced in-person contact to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition to providing millions of scheduled phone and video visits for our members, in 2021 we also mailed an average of 116,000 prescriptions per day and introduced 24/7 virtual care .