A program that has been encouraging people from all over the country to travel to the Mayo Clinic for procedures and treatment is expanding a the Mayo Clinic. This program, known as the Centers of Excellence program, is now going to be expanded to include cancer, bariatric surgery, heart failure, infertility services, and congenital heart disease.
UnitedHealth group is behind the expansion of the program, and under the program, health plans offer incentives for patients if they travel to the Rochester-based Mayo Clinic for care. The Mayo Clinic has been designated as a center of excellence for over 10 years when it comes to organ transplants, but now even more services are going to be offered, which could expand treatments to millions of Americans. The insurers say that these programs save a lot of money, because since the patients are getting top-quality care at the top-quality hospitals, they will be less likely to have complications in the future. This is the third collaboration for the Mayo Clinic with Optum, which is an UnitedHealth Group subsidiary that sells health services and information technology. Dr. Charles Rosen, the medical director for contracting and payer relations at the Mayo Clinic says that there is a major benefit and cost savings to the patient when there is a team available that arrives at the right diagnosis. When patients are misdiagnosed it ends up costing a lot of money both from the patient side of things, the insurance side, and the hospital side, since unnecessary tests are being performed and the wrong medications are being dispensed.
The Mayo Clinic and Optum have not released data or projections on just how many people might be coming into the Rochester, MN, clinic or to the other hospitals in Florida or Arizona as a result of this new agreement. This new agreement though is fitting with the theme at the Mayo Clinic, which is trying to stand out among competition as a place where people with complex medical needs can go. About 30 percent of the patients being treated at the Rochester Mayo Clinic live at least 120 miles away from the location, which shows just how special and unique the Mayo Clinic has become over the years for extensive and specialized care. Optum runs the centers of excellence program, which can be utilized by UnitedHealthcare insurance customers as well as other insurance companies that pay to use the network, and the number of centers varies by condition. There are a lot of ways that employers can incorporate that centers of excellence into the health benefits package offered to employees, such as offering a discount if you travel to one of the designated centers for care, and you can get per diem money for lodging and meals, and also get transportation benefits. Often times, the reimbursement is capped to $10,000 since most patients live within 100 miles of the location. Overall 30 million people have access to the centers of excellence program, and there has been an increased interest in the programs lately, since it can help lower the stay for people recovering from transplants. A lot of employers are also looking at ways to improve their overall costs but also improve quality of care their employees receive, which is another reason why the centers of excellence program is becoming more popular, especially with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which has caused insurance costs to skyrocket for many businesses through the United States.
As it stands right now, it looks like Rochester, MN, is going to continue to see more people coming into the Mayo Clinic for care, and this can actually spur a lot of economic development for the state. You will have more people traveling through the state, more families staying at hospitals, hotels, and going out to eat at local restaurants, and even shop in the state. So more businesses will be positively impacted by this news since the growth of the Mayo Clinic can help other local establishments grow as well, and that also could mean more jobs coming to the Twin Cities.