NU Medical Center receives recognition

NEW ULM – New Ulm Medical Center is celebrating National Hospital Week this week (May 11-17) with three national awards it received recently.

The awards signify that New Ulm Medical Center, a part of the Allina Health Network, is being recognized for the quality of the health care service it provides its patients, and is well poised to head into the future of health care, where good outcomes and efficient treatment will mean better compensation, said Toby Freier, president of NUMC.

The three awards include:

The 2014 iVantage Healthstrong Hospital Award. iVantage is a private health care advisory company that prepares indexes from the public information all hospitals provide to the federal government, and issues ratings and analyses. iVantage created the first national hospital rating system over 20 years ago.

New Ulm is one of only 547 hospitals in the nation (out of 4,400) named to the Hospital Strength Index, placing it in the top 12 percent in the nation. Only 14 hospitals in Minnesota were named; five of them are in the Allina system.

The index was based on ten “pillars of performance,” including cost, quality, outcomes, patient perspectives, competitive strength, charge, competitive intensity, market size and grown, population risk and financial stability.

NUMC was also named to the Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals in America by the National Rural Health Association. NUMC was the only hospital in Minnesota to earn the honor, and it is the second year in a row the hospital has received the honor. iVantage conducted this survey as well, and it included 1.267 hospitals. This ranking looks at eight different indicators, and focuses on hospitals in rural areas.

The fact that the hospital has won this award for the second straight year is an indicator of the consistency of New Ulm Medical Center’s emphasis on quality, said Freier.

NUMC also received the 2014 Outstanding Patient Experience Award, which puts NUMC in the top 15 percent of hospitals nationally, and the only one in south central and southwestern Minnesota to receive the honor. The ranking is based on the responses patients gave to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers and Systems survey for visits between April 2012 and March 2013. Healthgrades evaluated 3,582 hospitals that submitted patient surveys to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A total of 447 hospitals achieved the award.

Freier said it is gratifying that patients are giving good ratings to their experience at NUMC.

These awards signify that New Ulm Medical Center offers its patients good quality care, but it also is helpful in recruiting new physicians, said Dr. Dan Holmberg, M.D., the medical director for NUMC.

“We have no problem attracting new physicians, and we are one of the few rural hospital that doesn’t face a shortage of doctors,” said Holmberg.

Freier said NUMC’s success in achieving this kind of recognition is a result, in part, of the resources and support available from being part of Allina, but also from the model it is working from. New Ulm Medical Center is unusual in combining the hospital, clinic, support services and physicians group in one unified group.

“It means we are all working from the same page toward a single goal,” said Freier.

NUMC also enjoys great retention and continuity in its staff, he said. With little turnover, it is easier to produce and maintain a consistent effort toward its goal of continued improvement. NUMC does focus on quality, with frequent surveys of performance made possible through its electronic record keeping.

Over the years NUMC has also been able to identify and focus on specific areas of care, said Holmberg, such as how to communicate more effectively with patients, to make them more comfortable and better informed. When the organization reaches a point where it feels it is succeeding, it moves on to another area where there could be improvement.

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