Clinician-to-Clinician Update Clinician-to-Clinician Update

New Center's Innovations Improve Access to Specialty Care

March 2016

Despite the benefits posed by new treatments and advanced care, many patients continue to experience barriers to specialty care. Reviews of chart audits and physician surveys indicate that only 63% to 83% of referred patients ultimately consult with a physician in the specialty to which they were referred.1, 2 Some of the most commonly reported barriers are long wait times for appointments, excessive travel distance from the referred-to center, difficulty with transportation and parking, difficulty locating the clinic, and an inability to miss work to attend appointments.3, 4 Barriers to specialty care are particularly high for patients in rural areas, patients in lower socio-economic classes, and racial and ethnic minorities.5, 6

Recognizing these challenges, University of Minnesota Health leadership sought to bring principles of access to the design of its new Clinics and Surgery Center. Extended hours in selected clinics, patient concierges, and an open floorplan with collaborative workstations for providers and educational spaces for patients are among the new facility’s features intended to improve access and patient experience.

Patients can set evening and weekend appointments and check-in early online through MyChart. Rather than navigate large lobbies or a network of hallways, patients entering the center are met by concierges equipped with interactive tablets. The concierges review appointment information with patients, direct them to waiting areas, and provide patients with real-time, location-monitoring badges. When it is time for the appointment, patients will be met by a provider, rather than have their name called out, an adjustment designed to allow for more privacy and personal care. “There are little things during a clinic visit that cause stress or anxiety, and our goal in building this facility was to eliminate those triggers,” said Mary Johnson, chief operating officer of M Health.

On each floor, patients have access to Discovery Bars, locations where installed interactive tablets are available for them to look up information on health conditions or the latest research. The building’s open floorplan is also intended to improve patient care and outcomes. The center’s open workspaces encourage collaboration across provider teams. Placement of allied specialties in close proximity further serve to enhance communication and the coordination of care.

Valet and self-parking options have been added to address travel concerns, and patients can pay valet fees or request valet services from multiple installed tablets in the center.

“The technology is state-of-the-art, the layout doesn’t feel like a hospital, and we expect patients will welcome this new approach to care delivery,” said Bobbi Daniels, CEO of M Health.


  1. Bourguet C, et al. The consultation and referral process. A report from NEON. Northeastern Ohio Network Research Group. J Fam Pract. 1998;46:47-53.
  2. Forrest CB, et al. Specialty referral completion among primary care patients: results from the ASPN Referral Study. Ann Fam Med. 2007;5:361-367.
  3. Zuckerman KE, et al. Barriers to specialty care and specialty referral completion in the community health center setting. J Pediatr. 2013;162:409-14.e1.
  4. Keely E, et al. Patients’ perspectives on wait times and the referral-consultation process while attending a tertiary diabetes and endocrinology centre: is econsultation an acceptable option? Can J Diabetes. 2015;39:325-329.
  5. Brems C, et al. Barriers to healthcare as reported by rural and urban interprofessional providers. J Interprof Care. 2006;20:105-118.
  6. Kuhlthau K, et al. Correlates of use of specialty care. Pediatrics. 2004;113:e249-55.

When to refer

The University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center houses several floors of adult outpatient clinics in addition to diagnostic services, primary and dental care, a retail pharmacy, and the Ambulatory Surgery and Procedure Center. The center’s providers make every effort to see patients within the time frame requested.

In addition to these services, the center welcomes referrals to the following clinics:

  • Advanced Treatment Center (cancer and specialty infusion)
  • The Breast Center
  • Cancer Care (Masonic Cancer Clinic)
  • Center for Lung Science and Health
  • Dermatology Clinic
  • Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic
  • Heart Care Clinic
  • Medical Specialties (nephrology, endocrinology, diabetes education, rheumatology, hepatology, infectious disease, bleeding and clotting)
  • Neurosciences (neurology, neurosurgery, physical rehabilitation)
  • Eye Clinic
  • Orthopaedics Clinic
  • Sports Medicine Clinic
  • Surgery Clinic (gastroenterology, thoracic, vascular, colon rectal, bariatric, plastics, general)
  • Pain Clinic
  • Transplant Services
  • Urology/Institute for Prostate and Urologic Cancers

Collaborative Care

We are committed to partnering with referring physicians to optimize patient outcomes. The center’s multidisciplinary care teams provide treatments tailored to each patient’s unique needs within a space designed to foster communication and collaboration. We work hard to keep you informed of your patients’ care by providing detailed reports, from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up.

To arrange a tour of the center, please contact System Manager of Outreach Services Melinda Tuma Arvold: 612-867-3411;

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