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Published September 14, 2011, 01:19 PM

Altru Health System Named First Member Of 'Mayo Clinic Care Network'

"Altru's relationship with Mayo Clinic is based in cooperation and collaboration to imrpove the well-being of patients in our region," said Casey Ryan, M.D., president of Altru Health System.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Altru Health System in Grand Forks is the pack-leader in the Mayo Clinic's effort to build relationships with other hospitals.

On Septermber 14, Altru was officially named the first member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Mayo officials say relationship-building is the future of health care.

To understand Altru's future, it might help to look at the Mayo Clinic's past.

David Hayes/MAYO: "If you start with the Mayo brothers and go back 150 years, their reputation was based on the fact they saw referrals from a lot of physicians in the upper midwest and around the country as their reputation grew," said David Hayes, M.D., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

Now Mayo and Altru are continuing the brothers' legacy by formalizing a years-long relationship.

"We're delighted for Altru Health System to be the first site as the first official member of the Mayo Clinic Network," said Hayes.

On May 19th the two hospitals announced a history-making partnership because it was the first time Mayo lent its name to a non-owned entity. By working together, patients do not have to leave Grand Forks to get medical attention from Rochester, MN.

"There are two major pieces. One is 'Ask Mayo Expert' which is really an electronic textbook," said Casey Ryan, M.D., Altru President.

The other is called 'e-consult,' similiar to using a social networking site to chat with a friend who lives hundreds of miles away.

"When we discover we need to get an opinion from an expert, it is a simple few mouse clicks away. All I do is type in a question and send it to a M-S expert, stroke expert, brain tumor expert," said Matthew Roller, M.D., a neurologist at Altru.

Both hospitals believe sharing this advice will help keep in his or her community which they believe is better for patient care. But when a second opinion is not enough, patients can get to a world-class leader in medicine.

"There are individuals that may not be sure what is going on. One of the greatest things that will happen for all the patients we care for is we will get them to the right place at the right time," said Ryan.

Bridging gaps in patient care by building relationships with non-owned hospitals is a theme Mayo hopes to continue by adding more health systems to the network because the benefits go both ways.

"We've already benefited with Altru as our first site giving us feedback on those services. Telling us how can we improve them, how can they get better," said Hayes.