How Mayo Clinic’s network strategy boosts patient outcomes

Years ago, one of the nation’s top hospital systems took a radical stance—it wasn’t going to play the merger and acquisition game to continue growing. Instead, Mayo Clinic, based in Rochester, Minnesota, decided it was going to form an extensive network of providers to work with and focus on fixing the fragmentation problems plaguing the healthcare space.

In turn, the strategy has boosted patient outcomes and helped Mayo Clinic achieve accolades as the top-ranked hospital in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. The strategy balks in the face of a rapidly consolidating healthcare space currently marked by several large, ongoing transactions.

Care network

Mayo Clinic’s care network model works off affiliations with other providers in the area that allow patients to receive the “right care in the right place,” according to Eric Crockett, MBA, vice chair of provider relations at Mayo Clinic, who spoke about the network at the Medical Group Management Association’s annual conference in Boston this week.

The model integrates clinical practice, education and research, and is based on knowledge sharing across providers. The sharing can also help drive down utilization of higher-cost healthcare services by providing care in the right place, which often means it can be delivered closer to home for patients. The network’s vision is to allow all patients to have an experience with Mayo Clinic if they want one, regardless of where they live.

Network members that participate have access to Mayo Clinic’s processes and practices, along with integrated physicians. For Mayo Clinic, the network is a strategy to remain relevant in the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape and continue to develop and share new practice tools.

One of the biggest benefits has been the ability to coordinate complex care of patients across providers. Mayo Clinic’s network also has the capability to share information across all EMR types, Crockett told HealthExec.

Boosting outcomes

Mayo Clinic’s network partners have access to the hospital’s resources, including its team of professionals. In many cases, when it comes to diagnostics, network partners can send e-consultations to Mayo Clinic for second opinions.

In about 5 percent to 6 percent of cases, Mayo Clinic may disagree with what a partner is doing with respect to patient care and may step in to offer another solution. Those e-consultations sometimes can lead to significant breakthroughs in a care plan and make a huge difference to patients in receiving care they prefer.

Mayo Clinic also hosts periodic collaboratives across specialties, where providers within the network get together and frequently come up with new breakthroughs, according to Jessica Homan, operations administrator of provider resources at Mayo Clinic. Specialties will share evidence-based best practices and the collaboratives help promote standardization across the network and the industry. They can also churn out real results.

For example, an enhanced recovery colorectal surgery collaborative that included a webinar, the assembly of a multi-disciplinary team and data, a face-to-face meeting and monthly coaching calls resulted in a significant drop in length of stay for member participants. The baseline length in stay dropped from 6 days to 3.8 in the enhanced recovery program. Readmission rates also dropped 19 percent and 22 percent in two different cohorts in a COPD collaborative, according to Mayo Clinic.