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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“If we see common injuries in certain settings, we can help businesses put things in place to prevent them. Or if you have employees who have to leave for several hours once or twice a week for diabetes checks, with bigger companies we might be able to do something on site for them.”

Another big efficiency change that isn’t directly noticed by patients is something called Care Traffic Control, a coordinated internal system that allows hospital and clinic staff from across south-central Minnesota to decide quickly where a patient would best be treated.

“Say a provider from St. James wants to admit a patient to Mankato or somewhere else. These are complex situation where you have to make sure everyone has the available nurses, social workers, medical specialists ready,” Kutcher said.

“This system makes it much easier. Sometimes they maybe don’t even need to be transferred from their facility to another one if the other facility can get the help they need.”

It also makes things less complicated for patients, he said. “You’d often heard complaints from patients about why wasn’t this all in place or why are they doing the same tests again? This helps with that.”

Mayo is also relying on a variety of technology to help providers deliver better care to patients.

The local Mayo system is a certified telestroke center in which a wide variety of test results and data from someone who just suffered a stroke can be relayed instantly to a team of Mayo neurologists, who may be in Arizona.

“When someone has a stroke, it’s very time sensitive. Some people should be given a clot-busting drug early on, but it’s risky to do and it’s not given at small hospitals. It’s a very complex decision to see who gets it and sometimes people who should have gotten it didn’t,” Kutcher said. “Now they can get a neurologist online immediately to help them make the diagnosis and if they need (the clot-busting drug) they can be sent to Mankato or wherever.”

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