How Mayo Clinic uses data to improve surgical outcomes: 4 insights

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Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic has developed an approach using clinical databases to improve surgical outcomes that can be applied at other hospitals, according to a Sept. 30 Harvard Business Review report.

Many health systems are underutilizing clinical registries, according to the report. Mayo Clinic's database collects information, such as surgical procedures and patient-reported outcomes. Mayo Clinic's Department of Neurologic Surgery used these databases to identify areas that needed improvement, the quality of its surgeries and cost effectiveness. 

To create a similar approach, Mayo Clinic shared four insights from their program:

  1. Secure the funding needed for the life of the project.
    Mayo Clinic had already invested in developing a clinical registry infrastructure within neurosurgery. However, it cost an additional $1.5 million over a five-year period to create a dashboard designed to inform business operations and contracts with payers.

  2. Create an interdisciplinary team of talent.
    Mayo Clinic assembled a team  of experts in supply chain, IT, clinical, administrative, finance and quality reporting. Every hospital that performs complex neurosurgery was represented. Since many of the team members didn't know each other, Mayo Clinic engaged in months-long initiatives to develop an understanding of a common purpose between them.

  3. Develop predictive analytics.
    Mayo Clinic developed a predictive tool called the neurosurgical risk calculator. The calculator enables the physician and patient to predict operation risks so they can discuss options, estimate risks and more.

  4. Ensure the data is being used.
    To ensure the data is used, neurosurgery department chairs must solicit research proposals for department faculty perodicallically. Mayo Clinic also uses the data to gain competitive contracts with employers and payers, by using the data to compare their surgery outcomes with national benchmarks. It has also resulted in an increase in patient referrals from payers.

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