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Mayo officials tout team-based care, other innovations at forum

By Trey Mewes, Austin Daily Herald

AUSTIN — Over the next two years, health care is going to work a little different at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin.

Mark Ciota

Mark Ciota

Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin CEO Mark Ciota explained how the hospital’s team-based health care approach would mean more preventative care, long-term cost savings and a shift in the way things work at hospitals during a community health forum at the Paramount Theatre Monday night.

“We’re trying to swing the pendulum the other way,” Ciota told the audience. “That’s a huge change for the provider and a huge change for patients as well.”

Echoing his speech at least year’s community health forum, Ciota said the team-based approach would improve health care in the face of issues like fewer primary care physicians in the field, changing health care practices and rising costs.

Mayo’s team-based approach uses the concept that a patient has a team of medical professionals, including doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physical therapists, etc., that would help manage a patient’s overall well-being. In addition, health care is likely going to focus on preventative treatments and keeping well rather than seeing a doctor only when patients are sick.

That means a more active approach on the hospital’s part, as well as the patient’s according to Mayo officials. For example, the hospital will likely have staff to help patients connect with outside agencies for medical benefits or to get easier health care access.

While the team-based care will likely decrease medical costs in the long run, it also serves as a better benefit for patients, according to Ciota.

“We want you to get services you need in a very timely manner,” he said.

Several departments at the Austin hospital already run a team-based approach, according to Mayo officials, and all of Mayo Clinic Health System’s services should switch to the team-based model over the next 12 to 18 months.

On a larger scale, the Mayo Clinic Health System is close to finishing an overhaul of its medical records database to ensure medical staff can access patients’ pertinent health information at any MCHS hospital. The systemwide database works similar to the team-based approach in that it provides consistent care across the hospital system no matter where you are, according to Steve Waldorf, chief administrative officer for the Austin hospital.

Other health care changes are on the horizon. Ciota said genetics could play a larger role in medical care as doctors will soon be able to analyze a patient’s genetic structure and potentially predict when patients could get a disease. Looking at a patient’s genes could also help medical staff immediately determine what medication to use for an illness, rather than have a patient test out several kinds of medicine for conditions such as high blood pressure.

“That type of care is coming,” Ciota said.