Mayo Eyes New Way to Improve Access To Healthcare

Posted at: 10/28/2013 10:50 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Even before the Affordable Care Act became law, many wondered whether the new health insurance system would change their ability to see their current doctor.

And while the impact remains to be seen, doctors at the Mayo Clinic said they’re developing a new model of treatment to make problems with accessing healthcare a thing of the past.

On Monday night, officials from Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Austin and Albert Lea held a special forum in Austin to discuss the future of health care and get feedback from residents.

And not all of the feedback was positive.

“I’ve been without a primary care physician because the last one I had, I met him and next thing I know I got a letter that says he was leaving,” said Lon Krueger, who receives care at the clinic in Austin.

Krueger and his wife Kay were among a number of people who shared stories about having problems seeing their doctors. Problems included everything from doctors leaving the clinic, to canceled appointments, to long wait times between visits.

But Mayo officials said a new system will help alleviate those problems altogether.

They said that in the next two to three years, patient care will be almost entirely team based, with a number of physicians, nurses, and specialists dedicated to a single patient to try and cut down on inefficiencies and improve care.

They said the new system, along with new technology, will get patients in and out of the clinics faster while cutting costs.

It's an idea that, if successful, will come as a welcome change to patients like the Kruegers.

“That's a little bit of a new concept,” Lon Krueger said. “It's going to take some getting used to, however, I think the way he addressed it is very positive and I'll be curious to see how this is going to shake out."

Also at Monday’s forum, Mayo officials said that despite buying several plots of land surrounding the clinics, they have no plans to expand in Austin or Albert Lea in the next five years.

And many people asked why premium costs for the new MNsure program are so much higher in Southern Minnesota compared to the Twin Cities. Officials said they believe those prices were artificially lowered below cost by the insurance companies to attract more customers, and said they are actively renegotiating prices locally to try and make the plans more affordable.