Like many Silicon Valley residents, Bill and Gay Krause have entrusted their healthcare to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation for decades. Bill has experienced PAMF excellent care since he became eligible as a Hewlett-Packard executive in 1970. And as he progressed in his career to become CEO of 3Com and eventually a private investor and corporate board member, many of his employees and colleagues have benefited from PAMF care as well.
Bill and I hope that our gift will inspire others to give to this organization.
Gay, a former teacher and principal who founded the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills in 2000 is equally appreciative of PAMF consistent, high-quality care. She increased her involvement with the organization in 2017, joining the PAMF Community Board of Trustees at the invitation of Sutter Bay Medical Foundation president and CEO Elizabeth Vilardo, M.D., MBA, a colleague from the YMCA of Silicon Valley board. Gay then became chair of the PAMF board in 2019.
"I am just so impressed by the way Dr. Vilardo has led the organization through the challenges of the pandemic to keep the community and employees safe," she says. "Our healthcare has always been top-notch, and now I am learning so much about the challenges behind the scenes to keep PAMF successful."
Enabling Transformative Technologies
Bill and Gay distinguished careers in technology and education have long inspired their philanthropy. For years, they focused their giving on education and helping children learn how to become productive contributors to our democratic society.
But more recently, the couple has turned their attention to healthcare, feeling it is essential to sustaining quality of life while also lifting up entire communities. "Serving on the PAMF board has introduced me to a world of medical innovation and research that is shaping the health of our community," Gay explains. "We think technology and the expansion of digital health tools are critical to keeping communities healthy and improving the overall cost and quality of healthcare."
This fundamental principle recently inspired the Krause family to designate $3 million to expand key digital health innovations that have helped keep healthcare accessible and safe during the pandemic. Their gift will further accelerate advances led by Albert Chan, M.D., M.S., chief of digital patient experience at Sutter Health.
"PAMF and Sutter showed us how important an innovative healthcare network is to keeping a community healthy, and we are proud to invest in Dr. Chan work in digital technology," Gay says. "Our hope for this gift is to spur innovation and research while showing the value of PAMF multispecialty clinics throughout Silicon Valley."
The Impact of Digital Innovation
After quickly deploying telehealth services across the integrated, nonprofit Sutter Health network, clinical teams moved from conducting 7,000 virtual visits in 2019 to more than 1 million in 2020. Just weeks after stay-at-home orders were issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual visits enabled patients to access care safely when physical offices were forced to close.
The convenience of virtual care has helped it remain popular into 2021, and it is destined to play a larger role in providing patients with personalized, accessible, coordinated care moving forward. Virtual visits and other digital touchpoints have also proven to help patients stay on track with their care plans, which can lead to better health outcomes.
"Video visits and expanded digital health capabilities have been transformative," Dr. Chan says. "They help support human connections that ultimately support trusted, high-quality care."
The Krause family donation builds upon other fundamental COVID-19 support implemented by Dr. Chan digital health team. For instance, Sutter Health's online patient portal, My Health Online, served as the main mode of communication with patients regarding vaccine availability and appointment scheduling, also fostering quick collaboration between patients and their care teams. The digital health team continues to work to enhance this and other digital services that have proven essential during the COVID-19 crisis.
Powered by Philanthropy
None of these advances would be possible without philanthropy. Case in point, donor generosity directly enabled Sutter Health to deploy iPads to connect hospitalized patients with their families and friends when visitors were not allowed during the first part of the pandemic. Other digital health innovations that enable caregivers to monitor patient vitals and symptoms remotely will soon be integrated into care through Dr. Chan team. These efforts, which further complement the ways patients interact and collaborate with their care teams, will be supported by a multiyear fundraising strategy.
"We are so fortunate to have passionate and dedicated community members who invest in our work," Dr. Chan notes. "The generosity of the Krause family fosters so much innovation in what we do for patients at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and beyond."
Dr. Chan has targeted three distinct areas that will benefit from the Krause family generosity:
- Digital Health Patient Advisory Group: This panel will pair thoughtful patients and family members with Sutter Health's digital health team, leaders, care providers and staff to collaborate on ways to maximize digital health improvements. The group input will enhance the patient and family experience in new ways all across the Sutter Health network.
- My Health Online enhancements: Throughout 2021, patients will notice that My Health Online has a redesigned look and feel. Updates will include a streamlined user interface, customizable shortcuts to match commonly used features, and easier-to-access quick links and alerts.
- Next phases of digital medicine innovation: Digital health solutions can evolve beyond telemedicine to benefit both individual patient needs and those of the broader population. Building off of initial virtual care successes, Sutter Health will continually enhance its capabilities and refine its workflows to boost efficiency. But the network ultimate goal remains the same: to create a more seamless experience for patients, clinicians and care teams.
"Bill and I hope that our gift will inspire others to give generously to this organization," Gay says. "PAMF has made healthcare equity a mission, knowing it is essential to our collective quality of life."