What’s up at New Ulm Medical Center

Many hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country including Allina Health are adopting the Institute for Healthcare Improvements (IHI) Triple Aim strategy, a framework that describes an approach to optimizing health system performance. It is IHI’s and our belief that we must boldly pursue the “Triple Aim”: 1) achieve better patient care experiences, 2) reduce the per capita cost of health care, 3) and achieve better health outcomes for the population we serve. Here are some examples of our progress in achieving all three aims at New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC).

Better Care Experiences

Initiatives that New Ulm Medical Center has put into practice to improve our patients’ experience include:

Right care at the right time: Improving access to appointments for routine or urgent care has been a top priority. We now have more than 25 primary care providers and an evening and Saturday Walk-in Clinic, making appointments more accessible and convenient than ever.

Care boards: Clear and consistent communications between caregivers and hospitalized patients is of utmost importance to our patients and families. Care boards are dry erase boards in patient rooms that make sure patients know who is on their care team at any given time and what the plan is for their day.

Rounding or visits by leaders: Feedback from our patients is also important. Whether a hospital stay is going well or if there is room for improvement in certain areas, relaying that information is important. That’s why most days of the week, one of our leaders makes visits (or “rounds”) to hospitalized patients. It’s a chance for them to tell our leaders what is going right, where we can improve or just talk about personal matters important to them.

Aromatherapy: Nurses on our inpatient and outpatient units have received training in the use and benefit of aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to manage physical and emotional health. Common symptoms that can be managed with aromatherapy include anxiety, stress, nausea, headaches and insomnia.

Pain management: Understandably, one of the biggest fears for patients when it comes to any kind of surgery or procedure is how much pain it will cause. In the past two years, we have made great strides in not only improving pain management itself but helping our patients know what to expect. That work has paid off. We’ve improved to rank within the top 20 percent of all hospitals nationwide in pain management satisfaction.

Per Capita Cost Reduction

In order to reduce the overall cost of healthcare, we must lower prices, utilization of services, or both. At NUMC, we have experienced some early success in reducing the utilization of higher cost services and continue to work on new initiatives to further this work. In addition, we recently implemented a price decrease averaging 13 percent. The price decrease varies by service or department across NUMC, but the reduction will ultimately lower the cost of healthcare by $6 million in 2013 for insurance companies, employers and individual patients.

Better Health Outcomes

As we assess the health of our country, we know the impact of the obesity epidemic could severely challenge our health care system. Excess weight can lead to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and a host of other medical issues that impact the well-being of the individual and the cost of care incurred by an entire community.

In New Ulm, we are extremely fortunate to have the Heart of New Ulm Project in place and based on data collected nearly 50 percent of the community has experienced weight loss since 2008. A new community health challenge, LOSE IT to WIN IT, will begin in June and we expect to see continued health outcomes improve. With this challenge not only can you improve your health, but if we have strong community engagement there will be grant funds reinvested back in the community for important health related projects.

Feedback is an essential part of improving our services and making sure our patients are getting the health care services they need. If you have feedback at any time please contact me at newulmmedicalcenter@allina.com.