Have you ever thought where you would go to get care if and when you really got sick? Having visited most major medical centers in the country and through working with hundreds of key opinion leaders, I recognize there are a lot of superb choices. Perhaps, in my opinion, the best of the best would be the Mayo Clinic up in Rochester, Minnesota. Walking into Mayo is like walking into Yankee Stadium. You just feel the sense of history and recognize that the very best medical minds are concentrated into this small town south of the Twin Cities.
The clinic was founded on the concept of teamwork and in fact many feel it was the first integrated specialty group practice. The concept is that the best care could be best delivered when physicians with a wide variety of skills work together to constantly improve the practice of medicine. Individual physician’s skills and thinking seem to be downplayed while the success of the clinic is really based on the integration of care and the system itself.
What is the future of medicine? Take a look at this Atlantic Journal article that discusses the “Mayo Model” for the future of healthcare. Note that there are a number of relevant things going on simultaneously. The “care pathways” developed by Mayo outline evidenced based ways to treat most diseases. Through this system most physicians can treat most patients just like they would be treated by physicians at the Mayo Clinic. This allows even the most average physician to deliver world class care for the majority of his or her patients. For those patients that fall outside the norm, Mayo has now developed their consult service where their specialists can be consulted by physicians who work in other medical systems. Note the coordination and collaboration. Note the use of data and technology.
Perhaps most important for the pharmaceutical industry is the consistency that will result from these trends. Medicine is still a combination of art and science, but now the great artists and thinkers are outlining the best way to do things for everyone else in the country. The days are quickly coming to an end where every physician develops their own way of dealing with diseases. What this means for our industry is that only the best products will survive. When drugs are equal or similar, they will not all be used. Only the most cost effective will then become the drug of choice.
The industry must begin to quickly change its business model from one of working with a couple 100,000 individual decision makers to one capable of convincing a handful of medical systems and managed care payers the real value their products provide for huge cohorts of patients. As tough as things seem to be in the industry today, it is going to get much worse as these trends continue to unfold. There are only two ways to win. The first is to deliver significant innovation and the second is to deliver economic value. High cost, marginal innovation will not survive.
The Mayo Model, and those similar, will significantly improve healthcare in our country. Those pharmaceutical companies that recognize their viability, embrace them and model their thinking accordingly will continue to thrive. Those that don’t won’t.