More than just an on-call system of telemedicine, the network aims to establish different venues through which provider groups can interface with Mayo Clinic. These venues include access to a knowledge management system. “It has access to care protocols, other content and questions that we use internally for our own physicians that we extend externally,” said Mayo Clinic Care Network spokesperson Mary Jo Williamson.
Member groups pay a fee to participate in the network, and are provided with access to the internal database, as well as various ways to communicate both electronically and by phone with Mayo Clinic physicians to ask clarifying questions or receive additional information and assistance about specific diseases or situations. Assisting both affiliated practice network members and Mayo Clinic Health System network providers is built into the daily workflow of Mayo Clinic physicians.
Instead of traditional e-mail, provider groups have access to the management system behind their firewall, through a portal, in which they can access toolsets that Mayo Clinic utilizes internally, or have an e-mail exchange regarding clarification of information. Some electronic tools will have less immediate turnaround time standards (such as 48 hours).
The Care Network also has a component centered around business process consulting, “whether that be extension of best practices from Mayo Clinic or helping them focus in on a targeted area where they’re looking for some help and structure as they look to drive improvement into their facility,” Williamson said.
Williamson pointed out that the time is right, given some of the movement in the market, to roll out a network of this type. “We know that healthcare is fragmented and there’s definitely a lack of coordination across systems. That’s really the underpinnings of the whole public debate regarding healthcare, and we believe that by extending this toolset to groups that are willing to invest the time and effort to work with us around that, we’ll benefit local healthcare delivery and we feel that’s an important role for us to play,” she said, adding that the consolidation in the market has created an environment where several provider organizations have contacted Mayo Clinic seeking alignment of some sort. “As we looked at if we were willing to go that route or how we might position it, we very much wanted to establish more structured ways to work with these organizations that are very culturally aligned and high quality,” she explained.
“Mayo is obviously a very large healthcare organization and we know that we have the resources to develop content and knowledge in areas that not all medical centers would have the ability to do, and we’re looking for novel ways to share that information broadly and to extend that knowledge and expertise to benefit healthcare in a variety of settings, not just when a patient is in one of our facilities,” Williamson explained, adding that the goal is to assist providers in improving care locally by extending information from Mayo Clinic to patients that they’re seeing.
The first provider organization to become a member of the network is Altru Health System, a Grand Forks, N.D.-area system with an acute care hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, a large home care network, a congregate living facility and more than a dozen clinics.