Although I have been to the Minneapolis area many times over the years to meet with Microsoft customers and partners, until yesterday I had never made it down to Rochester to visit the world famous Mayo Clinic. This was a special treat for me since I spent the bulk of my practice years at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. You see, Virginia Mason was actually founded many years ago by physicians who left Mayo to form a similar multispecialty medical group on the West Coast. So, I had always wanted to personally visit the Mayo Clinic and yesterday I got my chance.
Over the course of the day I met with several administrative and clinical leaders at Mayo. I especially enjoyed my meeting with Christopher Ross, who is serving as Mayo’s new Chief Information Officer. But the highlight of the day was visiting the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation.
I first learned about the Center for Innovation back in 2008 when I met it’s founder Dr. Nicholas LaRusso. Dr. LaRusso and I were both giving a keynote address at a large conference in Minneapolis. The Center for Innovation was just getting off the ground and Dr. LaRusso was gushing with excitement about the endless possibilities that his then small group of investigators might work on to transform medical practice. Fast forward to 2013 and the Center is now firing on all cylinders.
When you enter the Center for Innovation, you immediately sense that you are in a different kind of environment from the glass and marble hallways of The Mayo Clinic. Staff members were really excited because they had just moved into new digs after some extensive remodeling that provides more room and a very open, collaborative environment. A large sign in the entryway says “BIG, start small, move FAST”. The newly expanded center now has room for its growing multidisciplinary team of more than 60 designers, technicians, researchers and clinicians who are working on big ideas to help transform health and healthcare delivery.
Center for Innovation administrative director, Barbara Spurrier, told me about the Center’s four platforms or areas of focus. The first platform is the Mayo Practice, working on ways to enhance the patient experience, improve health of communities, and reduce per capita cost of care. The second platform is Connected Care, connecting Mayo to patients and communities through new care models and enabling technologies. The third platform is Health and Well Being, designing new ways to optimize health and wellbeing throughout the phases of life. The fourth platform is Innovation Accelerator, building and catalyzing a competency of innovation across the Mayo Clinic.
Dr. LaRusso is now focusing most of his time and attention as director of Connected Care at Mayo. Clearly, in light of health reform and the continuing challenge to improve care quality and access while lowering costs, Mayo is exploring many creative, convenient ways to bring care and services to people using a variety of advanced technologies including remote monitoring, tele-health, and mobile applications on smartphones.
In many ways the focus at the Mayo Clinic these days mirrors the work and interests of our worldwide health organization at Microsoft. Perhaps that is why I felt such synergy with the terrific clinicians, administrative leaders and other staff I met yesterday during my visit at the Mayo Clinic and Center for Innovation.