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At HCMC, healthy doesn’t mean more costly

At HCMC, healthy doesn’t mean more costly

Mark Zdechlik ·

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St. Cloud Medical Group ranks high at keeping costs low

Kevin Allenspach, kallenspach@stcloudtimes.com 6:44 p.m. CDT September 19, 2015

To combat the ever-rising costs of health care, some providers are concentrating on innovations like e-visits, patient portal accounts and accountable care organizations.

St. Cloud Medical Group has been among the most successful in Minnesota at keeping expenses down, according to the second report in as many years issued by a nonprofit industry watchdog.

The total cost of care per patient, per month at St. Cloud Medical Group was $385 — eighth-lowest in the state among 132 medical groups — in results compiled by MN Community Measurement from actual patient costs last year.

That was 14 percent below the state average of $449, which increased 3.2 percent from the inaugural survey released in 2014.

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Minnesota’s medical costs rose in 2014 but varied widely clinic to clinic

Minnesota’s medical costs rose in 2014 but varied widely clinic to clinic

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The total cost of medical care varies dramatically across Minnesota — from $823 per month for patients who receive their primary care at the Mayo Clinic to just $381 at a pair of suburban Twin Cities medical groups.

The average medical bill was somewhere in between: $449 per month for the average privately insured patient, according to the second annual Total Cost of Care report, released Thursday by MN Community Measurement.

The report also found that improving quality and patient satisfaction apparently has come at a price: A 3 percent increase from 2013 to 2014 in the cost of patient care.

While unmasking high-cost providers might motivate them to change, the main goal is to learn from providers that bucked the trend and lowered costs, said Jim Chase, president of Community Measurement, a nonprofit agency, which based the data on claims paid by Minnesota’s four largest health insurers.

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Ranking: The average test price, medical bill at clinics across Minnesota

Ranking: The average test price, medical bill at clinics across Minnesota

By Shaymus McLaughlin

The price for medical tests and procedures – from an X-ray to a glucose measurement – jumped up 6 percent in 2014. And your overall medical bill likely went up too.

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State survey finds Winona Clinic, others in state give strong care, but struggle with delays

2 hours ago  • 

While patients at Winona Clinic are generally satisfied with their health care providers, they are less pleased with how long it takes to get an appointment.

According to statewide data released last week by the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Community Measurement, 80 percent of surveyed patients at Winona Clinic gave their health care providers a top rating of 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale.

However, just 39 percent of respondents said they got a top level of access to care — such as timely appointments, answers to questions, and short waiting room times. That’s well below the statewide average for satisfaction with access, at 60 percent, with numbers for individual clinics across many specialties and regions ranging from 30 to 90 percent.

Winona Health CEO Rachelle Schultz said in an interview Tuesday that the access problem isn’t news to Winona Health, which has been tracking patient satisfaction for years.

As far as the most recent set of data, Schultz said it reflects national trends the industry has been anticipating: an aging population with more health care needs, a shortage of primary care physicians and health care reform.

“There’s been this kind of impending knowing, that there’s going to be this huge demand on the health care system everywhere. At the same time, when we look at workforce issues, you have the opposite thing happening,” she said.

Fewer doctors are choosing primary care, and recruiting medical school graduates can be a three-year process, Schultz said, which is not fast enough to keep up with the demand.

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Area clinics score high on patient satisfaction survey

By Jessica Bies jbies@mankatofreepress.com | Posted 7 days ago

MANKATO — With only a few exceptions, area clinics scored high on a statewide survey about the quality of patients’ experiences during appointments and interactions with staff.

Most notably, Daniels Health Center in St. Peter, a branch of Mankato Clinic, scored among the top 15 clinics in the state for having courteous and helpful office staff.

The high ranking is not a happy accident but instead the result of a concentrated effort on part of the clinic, CEO Randy Farrow said.

“We have been putting a big focus on our staff, and customer service has been a big area of focus for us,” he said Wednesday. “We do a lot of staff training around that.”

Patient opinion unchanged

This is the second time the Minnesota Department of Health and MN Community Measurement has conducted the Patient of Experience of Care Survey. It is the nation’s largest statewide patient experience survey, and 2015’s responses show that consumer opinion hasn’t changed much since 2013.

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Ratings reveal Minnesota clinics with best communication, access

Nearly 80 percent awarded their doctors and clinics top marks in a 2014 survey.

By Star Tribune – August 26, 2015 — 10:56pm

Doctors might not be able to turn on the charm overnight, but new Minnesota patient survey data show it is entirely possible for them to become better at seeing and talking with patients.

The second release of patient satisfaction data by MN Community Measurement on Wednesday shows little change overall — 79 percent of patients gave top marks to their doctors in 2014, compared to 78 percent in 2012. But some clinics made substantial progress.

“It doesn’t have to be that somebody really competent should also be rude to you,” said Jim Chase, executive director of the nonprofit rating organization. “The [patient] experience still matters.”

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Local clinics score above average in patient experience

By Stephanie Dickrell, sdickrell@stcloudtimes.com 10:31 a.m. CDT August 26, 2015

Nearly 80 percent of Minnesota’s patients give their health care providers a top rating of nine or 10 on a 10-point scale, but only about 60 percent of patients said they experienced a top level of access to care.

The results of the 2015 Patient Experience of Care Survey were released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Health and MN Community Measurement.

Locally, CentraCare and a few other clinics were included in the survey, scoring average or above in all categories.

This is the second time that Minnesota has conducted the nation’s largest statewide patient experience survey.

Patient opinion hasn’t changed much since the first survey in 2013, according to officials.

The survey included 200,500 patients at 765 clinics in Minnesota and neighboring communities who had appointments between September 1 and November 30, 2014. This year’s survey indicates that patient opinion hasn’t changed much since the first survey in 2013.

Local results

Here are the local results. Categories include: getting care when needed, how well providers communicate, courteous and helpful office staff and providers with “most positive” rating.

  • CentraCare River Campus — Rheumatology in St. Cloud scored above average in all indicators.
  • CentraCare Health Sauk Center scored average on getting health care when needed and courteous and helpful office staff. It scored above average in providers with a “most positive” rating. Results on how well providers communicate were not available.
  • CentraCare Health — Monticello Medical Group scored average on getting care when needed and how well providers communicate. It scored above average on courteous and helpful office staff and a “most positive” rating.
  • CentraCare River Campus — Nephrology scored above average in all categories.
  • CentraCare Health Paynesville-Richmond scored above average in getting care when needed and the “most positive” category. It scored average in how well providers communicated and courteous and helpful office staff.
  • CentraCare Health Plaza — Dermatology scored scored average in getting care when needed and the “most positive” category. It scored above average in how well providers communicated and courteous and helpful office staff.
  • Lakewood Health System — Sartell Clinic scored average in getting care when needed and the “most positive” category. It scored above average in how well providers communicated and courteous and helpful office staff.
  • Williams Integracare Clinic scored average in getting care when needed and above average in the rest of the categories.

Other highlights

Though patients are generally having a good experience, the survey did find significant differences between clinics. Here are some highlights from the survey:

  • 79 percent of respondents gave their provider a top rating of nine or 10 on a 10-point scale – a statistically significant one point increase over the 2013 result. Individual clinic ratings ranged from 49 to 97 percent of providers receiving a top rating.
  • 83 percent of respondents described communication from their providers as top-level. Across individual clinics, the low score was 54 percent and the high score was 94 percent.
  • 81 percent of respondents gave the office staff at their clinics top marks for being respectful and helpful. However, a 40 percentage point difference can be seen between the highest and lowest scoring clinics.
  • Nineteen percent, or 121, more clinics participated in the survey than two years ago.
  • Clinics participating in the state’s Health Care Homes initiative included additional questions in the patient experience of care survey. For over half of all certified Health Care Homes, at least 60 percent of their patients reported a positive score in relation to shared decision making, and at least 50 percent of their patients reported a positive score in relation to attention to mental health.

Results are based on 200, 500 patient-completed surveys on patient experience of care – known as the Clinician and Group Surveys – Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. Thirty-three percent of the patients surveyed responded, which is a similar response rate as 2013.

Minnesota conducts the nation’s largest statewide patient experience survey.

Follow Stephanie Dickrell on Twitter @SctimesSteph, call her at 255-8749 or find more stories at www.sctimes.com/sdickrell.

Survey measures

The survey measures patient experience in terms of whether patients were:

  • Getting care when needed.
  • Being listened to and receiving understandable information and instructions.
  • Experiencing courteous and helpful office staff.
  • Satisfied with their provider.

View the original article from the SCTimes

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Mayo’s Somali health project aims to build trust with community

By Nate Gotlieb
Free Press of Mankato
Posted: 06/20/2015 11:01:05 AM CDT | Updated: 2 days ago

When Fardousa Jama and her father, Hussein, surveyed 400 Somalis last year in Mankato, Minn., they found many misunderstood and mistrusted the American health care system.

Some weren’t taking their prescribed medicine, they found, and some with diabetes were testing their blood sugar too frequently. Others faced language barriers and didn’t know how to access prescription medication.

“There is a huge gap and mistrust that happens with doctors and Somalis,” Fardousa Jama said. “We just want to help bridge the gap.”

That desire led to the Somali Health Literacy Project through Mayo Clinic Health System, which kicked off this month at the St. Peter Community Center. The project consists of 18 classes during the next 18 months on health topics ranging from defining health to diabetes and depression.

Mayo doctors said they hope the project can improve trust between providers and the Somali community and decrease emergency-room and urgent-care visits.

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Area’s Health Care is Most Expensive

By Jeff Kiger, Rochester Post Bulletin
June 18, 2015

The cost of health care in southeastern Minnesota was higher than in any other region in the state or even neighboring states in 2013.

The nonprofit MN Community Measurement released a new analysis of its Total Cost of Care report this week. Total Cost of Care, which was first released in December 2014, looked at the costs of 1.5 million patients at 1,052 clinics in Minnesota and border cities. It tracked patients covered by the four top insurers – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica and PreferredOne.

This week’s analysis compared costs for those patients treated in six Minnesota regions, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. It also broke the numbers down by adult patients versus pediatric ones as well as in-patient care to out-patient costs this time.

While the latest report did not reveal any new findings, it adds to the very new pool of health cost data using this new standard measurement.

“This is just another step in sharing information that we thought might be useful,” said MNCM President Jim Chase.

The average monthly cost of care per patient in Minnesota is $435. That monthly cost spiked to $535 in the southeastern area. That’s not surprising with Mayo Clinic, the most expensive provider at $826 a month per patient, based in Rochester. Olmsted Medical Center’s not far behind, as it’s ranked as seventh most expensive out of 115 medical groups.

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Somali Health Project Aims to Build Trust

By Nate Gotlieb, Mankato Free Press
June 3, 2015

Some weren’t taking their prescribed medicine, they found, and some with diabetes were testing their blood sugar too frequently. Others faced language barriers and didn’t know how to access prescription medication.

“There is a huge gap and mistrust that happens with doctors and Somalis,” Fardousa Jama said. “We just want to help bridge the gap.”

That desire led to the Somali Health Literacy Project through Mayo Clinic Health System, which kicks off Friday at the St. Peter Community Center. The project will consist of 18 classes during the next 18 months on health topics ranging from defining health to diabetes and depression.

Mayo doctors said they hope the project can improve trust between providers and the Somali community and decrease emergency-room and urgent-care visits.

“When people come into the doctor, we assume a certain understanding of health,” said Dr. Erin Westfall, who led the effort to coordinate the project. “Those assumptions aren’t accurate, and it leads to a lot of safety issues.”

Minnesota is home to about 45,000 Somalis and their children, according to state demographer Susan Brower. There isn’t an exact count of the greater Mankato Somali population, she said, though 327 kids in the Mankato Area school district reported speaking Somali at home in 2014-15, according to the state Department of Education.

Despite the relatively small numbers, Somalis have the poorest health-care outcome rates among all Minnesota minorities, according to a 2014 MN Community Measurement report. In colon cancer screening, for example, patients born in Somalia were screened at a rate of 22 percent compared to the 70 percent state average. Somalis also had the lowest health-care outcome rates in diabetes, vascular and asthma care.

The report doesn’t say why Somalis have such poor outcome rates, but Anne Snowden, who directed the report, said it sometimes can take foreign-born populations time to learn the U.S. health-care system.

Westfall said chronic diseases and mental illness are rare in Somalia. She noted that people without access to health care, such as those in refugee camps, aren’t used to talking about preventive efforts.

“For someone that comes from that culture, prevention efforts are looked at with suspicion because doctors may find something wrong when they feel fine,” she said in an email. “This is a difficult concept to grasp for everyone — Americans and Somali Americans alike.”

‘Risk is on you’

Jama, an interpreter at Mayo Clinic Health System, came with her family to Mankato in the late 1990s. She said her family was the first Somali family in Mankato.

Last year she and her father founded the Somali Community Barwaaqo Organization in an effort to help Somalis transition into the community. The organization has an office on Madison Avenue and offers no-cost citizenship classes, employment and housing assistance, and tutoring, among other services.

Jama said the medical system in America is better but a lot different than her home country. In Somalia people go the pharmacy to get their medicine, she said, whereas in America you need a prescription first.

“If you have the money, you can buy whatever you want,” she said. “The risk is on you.”

Abdikarim Abdulle can attest to that. He arrived in Mankato with his wife and five kids last month after spending 15 years as a refugee in South Africa. He said the hospitals in Somalia were dismantled once civil war broke out in the early 1990s.

“Once the health system gets dismantled, it goes away,” he said, with Jama interpreting. “It’s hard for the clinic to open up again.”

Interest in diversity

Westfall directs the osteopathic program for the University of Minnesota’s Mankato family medicine residency program. She secured a $5,000 grant from Enventis for the project.

Resident Dr. Vicki Zbikowski will be leading the classes. Zbikowski, who has a master’s degree in bioethics, said she is interested in cultural diversity and exploring how to best serve underrepresented health-care populations.

“It’s important to understand where this particular population is coming from in terms of what health means to them,” she said. “If we can’t understand where they’re coming from, then we’re unable to kind of meet them where they are at.”

The sessions will cover a range of topics, from defining what health is to diabetes, heart disease, immunization and more. The goal, Westfall said, is to affect at least 100 families.

The Barwaaqo organization is providing free rides to those in need. Call 507-625-2111 or visit somalicbo.org to learn more.

Read the original article in the Mankato Free Press.

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