The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 31, 2014

Health providers holding down costs while better coordinating care

Health providers holding down costs while better coordinating care

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“We just make sure we work with our patients to follow up with them and do another procedure if that’s what they choose. It’s a bad situation, but most people understand we don’t make the parts. We just do the surgery.”

Mayo seeing a ‘culture change’

Better coordinating care for chronic disease isn’t just a matter of better treatment for diabetes or heart disease, Kutcher said.

At Mayo, a program called COMPASS is aimed at identifying patients with diabetes and heart disease to make sure those people are getting any mental health care they need.

“Many of them have overlapping depression issues,” Kutcher said. “If people don’t deal with that, they often don’t take care of the heart disease or diabetes.

“We’ve seen some real improvement in care in that population.”

Mayo has also been gaining efficiencies and easier patient experiences by beefing up a nurse call line.

“Call line doesn’t really do it justice. If you call for an appointment for certain problems, you’ll be transferred to a nurse and a lot of times they can help you deal with it right on the spot, rather than people having to go to a doctor or the ER,” Kutcher said.

“Things like refilling nasal prescriptions – nurses have been trained to help you with things like that. It’s a change in culture for patients and in health care. We call it ‘doing the right care at the right time at the right place.’ ”

Occupational medicine is another area seeing growth and new approaches and the need for more specialized knowledge.

“The rules on Department of Transportation truck-driver certification are very tough now. It used to be a family physician could do it, but not now,” Kutcher said.

He said occupational medicine now works more closely with employers to create workplace safety programs and deliver care on site.

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