Expect new model at med. center

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Changes in the medical field will affect everyone, even people not seeking care, say administrators at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea.

CEO Mark Ciota and Chief Administrative Officer Stephen Waldhoff were present Tuesday evening to speak with local residents about their health care concerns at an open forum at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

Mark Ciota

Mark Ciota

Ciota explained that health care reform, new regulations and staggering costs are the main reasons the hospital system is needing to make changes to how it provides care.

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“We far outspend per person more than any other country in the world,” Ciota said.

And that wouldn’t necessarily be so bad if the nation’s people are healthier than every other country, but that’s not the case, Ciota said. A slideshow shown to the more than 180 attendees said that the United States spends much more per person for health care, but the nation wasn’t even in the top 30 most-healthy countries.

Ciota explained that most health care costs are spent on 5 percent of the population, and almost none is spent on about 50 percent of the population because they are seemingly healthy and not coming into hospitals for problems.

“One of the big changes is keeping healthy people healthy,” Ciota said.

Urgent and emergency care are two of the most expensive types of care, Ciota said. He explained that the hospital likely will be moving toward a new model, and ideally urgent care would no longer be needed.

“We’ll slowly be transitioning to a value-based system,” Ciota said, “where we have a team of caregivers to treat a group of patients.”

Mark Ciota, CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin, speaks to a crowd of about 180 people Tuesday night at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center. --Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Mark Ciota, CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin, speaks to a crowd of about 180 people Tuesday night at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center. –Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Ciota said a team of caregivers would be overseen by a physician, but the actual caregivers who meet with patients might be nurses, therapists, pharmacists, physician assistants or other health care workers. The idea is that a care team would know patients better and there would be consistent care because more than one person understands the patient’s issues.

“The model of care you’ve become accustomed to may change,” Ciota said.

Waldhoff said most people have historically had one doctor, and they come see that doctor when there’s a problem. That sort of care may become a thing of the past, and Waldhoff explained there could even be more care done virtually.

“Change is upon us,” Waldhoff said. “We all need to recognize the vision.”

Waldhoff said hospitals may soon be judged based on the health of the surrounding population, but quality and cost-effectiveness will be emphasized as well.

“We’re still going to be here for you,” Waldhoff said. “But we’ll be changing.”

Stephen Waldhoff

Stephen Waldhoff

Audience members got the chance to ask questions, and Ciota fielded several relating to the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Ciota said there are many changes relating to health care, and that it can be hard to plan for the future when the hospital doesn’t even know what changes to expect.

Other questions included how worksite clinics work, how technology could help or hinder providing care and how the hospital is maintaining its costs.

Ciota said he frequently has open forums for his employees, but he thought now would be a good time to have one for the public. He thinks the last health care forum was possibly in the early 2000s and said an open forum might be something the hospital will do once a year and as the need arises. Ciota said it was a good opportunity for him and Waldhoff to talk directly with the community about their concerns.

“We had a really good turnout, which I think is fabulous,” Ciota said. “I’m really enjoying hearing their concerns and them getting factual answers.”

The integrated medical centers of two cities now called Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin held open forums in both communities. Austin’s was on Monday evening at the Paramount Theatre.