CEDAR RAPIDS — In 2013, UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids began a yearlong process to join the Mayo Clinic Care Network, a program that allows health care providers to receive consultation and other benefits from the Mayo Clinic.
UnityPoint Health in Cedar Rapids joined the network, which includes a group of more than 40 providers from around the world, in mid-2014. UnityPoint-St. Luke’s is the only Iowa hospital in the network.
What’s Happened Since
The Mayo Clinic Care Network has been well-received by patients and physicians alike, said Dr. Todd Langager, a St. Luke’s cardiologist who was a part of the team to bring UnityPoint into the network.
“We believe that there’s been a strong value to this,” he said.
The network serves two main purposes.
On one side, physicians can receive consultations from Mayo Clinic doctors on difficult cases within two business days, which is the most common use of the network, Lanager said.
Langager said the electronic consultation system that allows Mayo Clinic specialists to consult on a patient’s case is used about 25 times a month for Cedar Rapids patients. If there is a rare or uncommon diagnosis, Langager said, physicians across all practices connect with respective specialists who are knowledgeable about the condition or disease.
“Our patients have completely embraced the concept of these electronic consults,” he said. “(Mayo specialists) give a formal evaluation of their medical record and condition by reviewing our physician records and the various tests that we’ve performed. Then, Mayo can offer opinions.”
There is no additional cost for the patient. The bill is paid by UnityPoint Health, Langager said.
When UnityPoint announced it had joined the network, officials said residents with complex medical cases have had to travel hundreds of miles to places such as Rochester, Minn., for the care they need. In 2012, UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids President and Chief Executive Officer Ted Townsend said there were 561 patients living in Cedar Rapids who visited the Mayo Clinic.
But with this network, UnityPoint is keeping more patients in town, officials said.
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“Our initial analysis revealed we were able keep more patients in the care in the community, and that’s a huge satisfier to the patients,” Langager said.
The Mayo Clinic network also is used to help providers create programs and develop strategic planning. Network members can also compare best practices among themselves.
Langager said they have engaged the network for several initiatives and educational forums for physicians.
The network also has helped the provider develop new programs for the hospital and its clinics.
“We participated in a (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) project with the Mayo Clinic and other care network members, which helped us improve the way that we care for our patients with COPD, or obstructive lung disease,” Langager said.
Langager said UnityPoint Health officials evaluate the impact of the Mayo Clinic Care Network each year, but for now, the provider finds “tremendous value” in being a part of the network.
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