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Minnesota has certified 11 medical clinics as health care homes to better coordinate care of people with chronic illnesses, the state Health Department said Tuesday.
Sometimes called "medical homes," the clinics remain the sites where patients go to receive regular care. The change is that a team of clinicians coordinates a patient's care wherever it is provided, and builds a partnership with the patient and sometimes the family to improve the patient's health and quality of life -- and with fewer hospitalizations seeks to reduce care costs.
So far, just 70 physicians and six physician assistants or nurse practitioners do the health care home work of the 11 clinics, representing a modest step in what health officials hope will be a widespread practice.
It is part of the state health system overhaul approved by the Legislature in 2008 that includes a $47 million statewide campaign now under way to reduce smoking and obesity and a new system to rank the quality and costs of providers, to be unveiled next January.
"Health care homes help ensure that patients get the right care at the right time in the right place," said Health Commissioner Sanne Magnan. She signed the certification papers Monday for the 11 clinics. About 50 more have applied, and state officials hope to approve 150 clinics -- about 20 percent of those in the state -- by the end of next year.
The 11 clinics include four Park Nicollet Health Services clinics in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park; five clinics associated with the Lakewood Health System in Staples and nearby cities; the Mayo Health System-Austin Medical Center and a one-doctor clinic operated by Dr. Christopher Wenner in Cold Spring.
With health care homes, the state will pay certified clinics a monthly care coordination fee averaging $31.39 for managing the care of complex patients on Medicaid and other state-subsidized health programs. Private health plans may make their own fee agreements with health care homes.
Management tasks may include consultation among a care coordinator and nurses, physicians, specialists, pharmacists and other professionals, as well as providing phone call checks and education to clients.
Some of those activities are already in place in other clinics as medical professionals seek new ways to treat patients with complex conditions, who account for much of Minnesota's estimated $41 billion in health care costs for 2010.
The state expects to spend about $1.6 million for care coordination over the next 12 months. The new federal health-care law will add some money to help pay those costs.
Warren Wolfe • 612-673-7253