A highly readable, surprisingly engaging volume for anyone interested in health care issues.


KP Inside - 101 Letters to Us at Kaiser Permanente

A collection of letters by the CEO of the nation’s largest health plan to his 180,000 employees.

Reading other people’s mail can be irresistible—or deadly dull. What will readers find compelling in nearly five years’ worth of weekly emails from someone else’s boss? Plenty, it turns out. Halvorson (Health Care Will Not Reform Itself, 2009, etc.) offers a unique view of health care from his perch atop Oakland, Calif.–based Kaiser Permanente, a $50 billion–a-year managed care organization that insures and provides care for 9 million people in the United States. Founded in the 1940s by industrialist Henry Kaiser to cover his construction and shipbuilding workers, KP today has 40 percent of California’s health insurance market and 10 percent of the entire nation’s. In recent years, KP pioneered electronic medical records, and many of the successes Halvorson celebrates in this book derive from that $4 billion investment. Other topics include reducing hospital-acquired infections; lowering mortality rates; cultivating care teams; preventive-health research studies using “big data”; and implementing logistical fixes, such as re-engineering nurses’ shift changes and outfitting mobile clinics for rural patients. These letters, said to be unedited from their original form, contain occasional whiffs of public relations polishing, but background notes often clarify context and jargon, and many include charts and graphs as well. Halvorson maintains a consistent style and distinctive voice and presents complicated health topics in clear and simple language. A few of the author’s verbal quirks become repetitive in book form—for example, he loves the word “lovely” and the phrase “a good thing.” But by writing about his grandson’s premature birth, his dying uncle’s palliative care and his own coronary-bypass surgery, Halvorson humanizes insurance executives and hospital administrators in an era when health care reformers often cast them as boogeymen. Some readers may tire of the relentless cheerleading, but the valuable information Halvorson shares make the pep rallies worthwhile.

A highly readable, surprisingly engaging volume for anyone interested in health care issues.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478113669

Page Count: 446

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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