How Mile Bluff Medical Center thrives as an independent rural healthcare system

July 26, 2023 |  EHR, Health IT, Transformative Technology

At the heart of healthcare is the people. From providers to patients, human connection leads the care experience, and the Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston, WI embraces that philosophy.

As Juneau County’s sole full-service hospital, Mile Bluff serves an estimated 55,000 residents in an eight-county region. They remain an independent rural healthcare system with a thriving 40-bed acute care hospital, five outreach medical centers, two rehabilitation centers, an assisted living facility, and retail pharmacy spaces, and they’re continuing to grow and expand.

“Our whole goal is to continue the continuum of life, so we go from birth to death in a sense,” shares Mile Bluff CEO Dara Bartels. “We make sure we’re serving the whole community through all facets of life.”

That mission includes a recently finished imaging suite, renovated OB suites, and two new retail pharmacy spaces under construction. The staff at Mile Bluff are passionate about the organization’s community-focused approach to care.

“We lean really heavily on the people who know the community the best, which are our staff, our physicians, and providers,” confirms Angela Gatzke-Plamann, MD, CMO of Mile Bluff. “That way we can identify the community’s needs and make investments where our needs are.”

In other words, leadership does more than simply observe – they encourage the staff to be true partners in their system’s strategic development. Dr. Gatzke-Plamann exemplifies that through the organization’s opioid disorder program, which began in 2016 when she recognized the need in their community. At that time, Dr. Gatzke-Plamann did not hold an executive position, but took the initiative to go to the administration with a proposal. The program continues today and provides critical treatment to local patients, at a time when rural communities often lack these resources.

Upholding a high-quality of care also requires clinicians to be equipped with technology that works intuitively rather than disruptively.

Recently, Mile Bluff re-signed and updated to our MaaS subscription package. MEDITECH’s software-as-a-service model allows them to keep their costs sustainable while maintaining high levels of EHR functionality through the full Expanse suite.

“We needed to lean on outside expertise to get some streamlined processes,” elaborates Bartels. “When we chose the MaaS product, that’s what we were hoping to get and we did. That sets us up for success in being able to see our patients through the continuum of care using MEDITECH Expanse.”

During their move to MaaS, the organization also took the opportunity to replace another vendor’s ambulatory solution with Expanse Ambulatory. This helped their care delivery evolve to one patient record across all care settings, better supporting their continuum of life model.

In 2022, Mile Bluff also joined MEDITECH’s next phase in our Google partnership as an early adopter of the new Search and Summarization solution in Expanse. The functionality will allow clinicians to access a wider range of relevant clinical information in their workflow by searching across multiple sources (including legacy data and scanned documents) for a true longitudinal view of a patient's health history, enhancing the decision making process.

“The partnership between Google Health, MEDITECH, and Mile Bluff is going to put us to the next level as far as healthcare and patient satisfaction. I can’t be more excited about it really,” says Randy Brandt, PA-C, Primary Care Physician Assistant. Brandt was one of the first clinicians to test out and advocate for Expanse when Mile Bluff upgraded and continues to assist with EHR education at the hospital.

Mile Bluff demonstrates the potential of healthcare organizations of all sizes who embrace strategic opportunity, whether that’s through upgrading their locations, equipment, or technology, and MEDITECH is proud to be supporting this beacon of community care strategy.

Watch our video Continuum of Life: Mile Bluff Medical Center & MEDITECH Expanse to learn more, and browse our YouTube channel for our series showcasing this thriving rural community.

MEDITECH as a Service (MaaS) streamlines the EHR deployment at Mile Bluff Medical Center, reducing the burden on clinicians and IT staff while lowering the costs of hosting and maintaining both software and hardware.

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Written by Christine Silva, Senior Director of Field Marketing Operations, MEDITECH

Christine Silva is the Senior Director of Field Marketing Operations within MEDITECH’s Marketing Division. Christine leads a team focused on building close connections with the sales team. The Field Marketing Operation Team performs all sales support activities including Product Demonstrations, Clinical Liaison Presentations, Requests for Proposals,and Reference Site Visits. She has been with MEDITECH for 25+ years serving in numerous capacities in the Implementation, Client Services, Marketing, and Strategy Divisions. She is a Certified Product Manager and a Certified Product Marketing Manager.