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July 13, 2012

Mayo Clinic continues its 'affiliation' strategy to expand network

Daily Briefing

    Since first announcing its "affiliations" network last fall, Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic has partnered with several organizations to expand its reach into new states and build a broader infrastructure.

    Creating the network

    Mayo Clinic already had national presence: the renowned health system operates medical centers in Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida, and also owns a network of clinics and hospitals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa through the Mayo Clinic Health System (MCHS).

    But in September 2011, the system moved to expand its reach through the Mayo Clinic Care Network (MCCN). Through MCCN, Mayo has begun to affiliate with hospitals that it does not own, a key distinction from the pre-existing MCHS. 

    Organizations that join the network pay a subscription to access Mayo's research and expertise and use Mayo's brand. According to David Hayes, MCCN's medical director, the network will help Mayo "to have more of a reach and…structured links to a broader group of hospitals and medical centers throughout the country."

    Network brings Mayo into new states

    Mayo's network now includes five health care partners in North Dakota, Minnesota, Arizona, Missouri, and Michigan. It also includes a Minnesota-based cancer care partner.

    "It's an incredible resource that we could never reproduce locally. [To] have that literally a click away at our fingertips really helps us practice better medicine," says Mark Laney, CEO of Heartland Health, a MCCN affiliate.  

    Meredith Rosenthal—a Harvard University health economics professor—predicts continued expansion through the network.

    "There's likely to be growing demand, and Mayo can meet that demand and do very well without having to build new infrastructure," she says, adding, "It's a way they can continue to grow their reputation nationally and essentially enter a new line of business."

    However, Wharton School of Business professor John Kimberly warns that Mayo must continue to select high quality partners. "If they sign up with some providers who don't maintain sufficient levels of quality, then the Mayo brand suffers by association," he says.

    According to Hayes, Mayo has been careful to select only affiliates that meet high quality standards. He says the system currently is considering additional affiliations, including some outside of the United States (Stawicki, "Capsules," Minnesota Public Radio/Kaiser Health News, 7/12; Mayo Clinic website, accessed 7/13).

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