View From The Top: CEO Of The Mayo Clinic

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U.S. News & World Report recently named the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the number one hospital in the country this year, a first for the hospital.

The Mayo Clinic is world famous for a model that pays doctors salaries instead of fees, to head off the possibility of physicians ordering unnecessary tests to pad their incomes. Physicians also work on teams for better communication, and to keep costs down.

The Mayo Clinic has been center stage in the debate over the Affordable Care Act and "bending the curve" on the high cost of healthcare in the U.S.

Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Dr. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic, who says "it's that team-based, patient-centeredness that drives us forward."

Interview Highlights

On the working atmosphere at the Mayo Clinic

"It’s a tremendous opportunity to work together with the staff to do the most important thing, and that is focus on the patient, make sure that everything you do is focused on their needs and the needs of their family. There’s never concern at all about the economics driving those decisions. Do your work well, incorporate the latest breakthroughs in research to bring efficient and safe care as quickly as possible to get answers for the patients. And you’re surrounded by people who feel the same way you do, so it’s a real privilege to work here."

On whether the 'team-based' model ever results in disputes

"I can say in 24 years practicing as a neurologist I never had that situation when the surgeon and the medical team were at odds."

On how they approach patient care

"More than half our patients are Medicare patients."

"Our decisions are always based on what we feel is the right thing for the patient, but also involving the patient and the family in those decisions to make sure we understand their needs and wants and trying to make that answer together. We do that in an unhurried manner. We have a bit more time to spend with the patient and with the family, and make sure they understand what the options are. So there are no quotas here, we have a very long tradition of doing this, so we have an awful lot of experience that we build from everyday."

On whether the Mayo Clinic is more costly than other hospitals

"Every time folks have looked at the cost of care at Mayo Clinic and the value of the care, they’ve come to the same conclusion, and that is that our efficient team base care provides answers more quickly, more accurately, more efficiently, more safely, so the total cost of care overtime is very affordable. This has been played out recently in the recent Walmart contract. Walmart, like many, is a very well managed company. And they’ve basically said, for our employees at Walmart, if they develop breast, lung or colon cancer, we will cover them for a second opinion at Mayo Clinic, including sending them to Mayo Clinic, with a family member, for diagnosis and treatment at no charge to the employee. So they understand the importance of accuracy, safety, quality, efficiency of care and getting the answer right. So, we’re not more expensive than others when you look at the total cost of care. And secondly, our patients are very sick. More than half our patients are Medicare patients. Certainly we have a very large destination practice. We have the largest destination practice in the country, with patients coming from 130 countries every year and all 50 states. We don’t have a large inner-city population, that’s true, but we have very sick patients in Arizona, Florida and Rochester. We’re able to manage them, I think, very safely, very efficiently, through our team-based care."


This segment aired on March 2, 2015.


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