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Providing Specialty Care Across the Country: NorthShore CEO Mark Neaman & Mayo Clinic Network Medical Director Dr. David Hayes Discuss Their Collaboration

Earlier this week, Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem announced it was joining the Mayo Clinic Care Network. NorthShore is the most recent health system to enter into a non-ownership relationship with Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic by joining its Mayo Clinic Care Network. Healthcare organizations in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire and Florida are part of the network. Partner institutions include NCH Healthcare System in Naples, Fla.; Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.; Sparrow Health System in Lansing, Mich.; and Heartland Health in St. Joseph, Mo.

The collaboration is one of a kind in the Chicago region and will provide NorthShore patients with access to medial resources and experts from both systems working together on their behalf.

Here Mark Neaman, president and CEO of NorthShore, and David Hayes, MD, medical director of Mayo Clinic Care Network, discuss how the partnership was developed, its impact thus far and their goals for the partnership and the Mayo Clinic Care Network as a whole.

Question: Although this partnership does not deal with governance or a change of ownership, I assume it still required negotiations. How did NorthShore and Mayo Clinic begin negotiating this partnership?

Mark Neaman CEO of NorthShore University HealthSystemMr. Neaman: We began the discussion to join the network about two years ago when colleagues between NorthShore and Mayo Clinic were working to discover better methods to treat patients with complex medical conditions. For us, the partnership with Mayo Clinic was a way to bring additional expertise to our patients closer to home, as well as capitalize the expertise of our physicians at NorthShore by working with the expertise of physicians at Mayo Clinic. We've built a strong relationship as well as a number of tools to make quality care of these patients more accessible. What we announced was a way of formalizing what we've done over the past year.

David Hayes Medical Director of Mayo Clinic Care NetworkDr. Hayes: For the Mayo Clinic, it was coincidental that at the same time we were beginning to develop this program there was conversation from NorthShore about extending relationships. The timing was coincidental.

Q: You mentioned that you've built some tools that will aid collaboration through the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Can you elaborate on those tools?

MN: We created bi-directional tools that can assist with complex care whether a patient begins at NorthShore or Mayo Clinic. The tools enable video conferencing and electronic consultations — tools that help make sure the patient can get a second opinion without traveling across the United States. We've had over a hundred patients over the last few months that have seen benefits from the tools and the connection to Mayo physicians.

Q: Could you give an example of a patient that has benefited from the Mayo Clinic Care Network collaboration?

MN: One good example is a patient who came to NorthShore with a complex pancreatic tumor. This individual first sought care at an academic medical center and was told the condition was inoperable. He then sought a second opinion from NorthShore, and the physician he saw told him that the best course of action was to operate. The patient was then in a dilemma of what to do for a very serious disease. The physician offered the patient a consultation from the Mayo Clinic. At first the patient had the obvious questions: How will I get there? How much will it cost? The physician was able to tell the patient that NorthShore could offer an electronic consultation right away because of the partnership with the Mayo Clinic Care Network. In this instance, everyone agreed that the tumor should be operated on, and the surgery should be done at NorthShore. The patient eventually had the procedure and is now recovering.

This shows the power of teams of physicians working together on complex diseases. The patient did not need to physically travel. The patient was offered a unique comprehensive consultation that he wouldn't have had access to otherwise. That's the type of impact we see from this collaborative agreement with Mayo Clinic.

Q: Other hospitals around the country have joined the Mayo Clinic Care Network. What made NorthShore University HealthSystem want to be a part of this opportunity?

MN: From my standpoint partnerships begin with a common organizational philosophy and an uncanny commitment to putting patients first. [NorthShore has] a large multispecialty group practice, fully integrated hospitals and long-standing commitment to an electronic medical record system, which we launched 10 years ago. We had the necessary ingredients — a similar philosophy, style, commitment to excellence and access to information technology — that made NorthShore a natural fit for the Mayo Clinic Care Network. As an innovative leader in health information technology, NorthShore will utilize the power of our electronic medical record and advanced data collection systems to develop with Mayo Clinic best care practices, enhanced clinical decision making and improved patient outcomes.

DH: As we talk to groups about being part of our network, we are looking for organizations that are culturally aligned, patient-centric organizations, meaning the needs of the patient come first. From that standpoint, after some initial meetings it was clear that there was a good match on cultures and philosophies for NorthShore and Mayo Clinic. From there, because of the chemistry, the partnership took on the natural progression of steps.

Q: Physicians at NorthShore's Neurological Institute, Kellogg Cancer Center and Cardiovascular Center will be able to collaborate and consult with Mayo Clinic physicians through the Mayo Clinic Care Network. Is there a reason those specialty centers will be the first to use the Care Network? Do you see the Care Network service expanding to other specialties?

DH: After we go through due diligence with an organization, we launch the network for joint services in neurology, cardiology and sometimes oncology. Those are the three starting points because broad clinical areas have subspecialties that are akin to the complex care we are focusing on. We do expect the consultations to expand to other, and hopefully most, medical specialties. [For that to happen] it will be important to build relationships, keep patients in mind and look for the avenues that could be expanded.

Q: What are Mayo Clinic's goals for the Care Network? Where would you like to see these collaborative consultations lead?

DH: We hope that, down the road when it will bring value, we can bring leaders of different hospitals together to see how the network could grow or develop to do better. We envision these forums to be on the CEO, CMO or CIO level. [However], we do not know for certain if that will happen. As the network grows and we see value, it may lead to that.

More Articles on Hospital Partnerships:

NorthShore University HealthSystem Joins Mayo Clinic Care Network
Sinai Health, Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago to Merge
USF Health to Create New Health System With Lakeland Regional Health Systems

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