'Retreating from innovation is not an option': Mayo Clinic's CEO shares 3 ways to maintain rapid transformation born from pandemic 

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

Digital transformation efforts spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic should not end once there is a vaccine or definitive treatment, according to Mayo Clinic CEO Gianrico Farrugia, MD. 

In an Aug. 20 op-ed for Fortune, Dr. Farrugia explained how the Rochester, Minn.-based health system has embraced innovation efforts such as virtual care during the pandemic and why Mayo will continue pushing transformation after. 

Three ways Mayo Clinic is using the pandemic as the foundation for healthcare transformation, according to Dr. Farrugia: 

1. Build on disruption introduced by the pandemic. Regulatory changes at the beginning of the pandemic created new opportunities for virtual care delivery. Many of these changes must be made permanent, Dr. Farrugia wrote. He highlighted Mayo's use of electronic intensive care unit remote monitoring technology to support staff and patients at a New York City hospital while cases were surging; using virtual tech allowed Mayo's physicians to participate in virtual rounds, manage patient medications and ventilators, and gave physicians on the ground time to care for more patients. 

2. Set up structure to prevent innovation regression. Mayo is "deliberately countering backsliding into a mostly in-person care model," by scheduling a minimum number of virtual patient visits in each department every week, Dr. Farrugia wrote, adding that most organizations are like rubber bands, "snapping back immediately to normal once the tension is gone." To maintain virtual care progress made during the pandemic, Mayo will continue balancing both in-person and virtual care models. 

3. Establish innovation partners with "different, yet complementary skills." Mayo has found most success with partners such as Google and Medically Home because they share similar values but with different skill sets. Dr. Farrugia cited the health system's work with Google, which has supported Mayo's tech and data security to form the cornerstone of its digital transformation efforts. Mayo's alliance with Medically Home powered its new advanced home care model, allowing it to launch 14 months earlier than planned so some patients could receive hospital-level care at home during the pandemic. Having these types of partners allowed Mayo to solve complex issues simultaneously instead of one at a time. 

"The pandemic's disruptive force has spurred transformational change in our organization, as well as in many others. We must actively resist a return to the old way of doing things, maintain the improvements we've made, and continue to invest in research and strategic collaborations that will produce a health care system that serves everyone better." Dr. Farrugia concluded. 

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