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New Ulm Medical Center

New Ulm Medical Center primary care teams improve patient access

When illness strikes, most people want to get in right away to see their family doctor. But if that doctor is already booked with appointments, they may have to see a less familiar provider at their regular clinic or travel to an urgent care location.

New Ulm Medical Center is rolling out a new primary care team approach that is helping to solve this problem. Each team of eight to 10 people includes both established and new physicians, nurse practitioners and/or physician assistants, and nursing staff. The teams are expected to improve doctor-patient relationships and make care delivery more efficient and systematic.

“We just started implementing the team approach and added same-day appointment slots for every provider,” said Joan Krikava, MD, director of medical affairs at New Ulm Medical Center. “Patients are telling us they have good access and the doctors are very happy that their patients can get in to see them right away when they are sick.”

Long-time New Ulm providers, who tend to have very full schedules, have been teamed with new providers who are building their practices. The composition of the teams was carefully planned to ensure a good mix of skills, practice styles and experience within each team, Krikava said. New Ulm Medical Center added five new primary care physicians and three new nurse practitioners during the past two years, and six care teams were formed.

Other changes include a faster, more efficient prescription refill system and improved processes for reminding patients to get health screening tests and follow-up appointments. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants handle some of the preventive care and chronic disease management.

“The number one advantage of our teams is that when you’re sick you’re more likely to see your own doctor,” Krikava said. “Number two, on each team there are back-up providers who get to know you for the times you don’t see your doctor.”

“There is a lot of value in having a physician who knows you personally,” said Krikava, who has been with New Ulm Medical Center for more than 20 years. “It makes it easier to figure out your health problems, and it may be less stressful to come in to the doctor’s office. Our physicians tend to have long-term relationships with their patients; now, if they are not available to see a patient personally, they hear about them from their team members.”

Source: New Ulm Medical Center - Health Edition
Reviewed by: Joan Krikava, MD, director of medical affairs at New Ulm Medical Center.
First Published: 05/01/2013
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2013