NAPLES — The NCH Healthcare System has entered into a clinical affiliation with the Mayo Clinic to tap the expertise of the world-renowned medical center to improve patient care locally, officials announced Thursday.
By becoming a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, NCH physicians can electronically send information about a patient’s condition to Mayo to get feedback on how to best proceed with the patient’s treatment, particularly for complex medical issues.
The collaboration is electronically based, so NCH can access Mayo’s database of clinical knowledge and reference materials for a variety of medical conditions.
The affiliation also means NCH physicians can receive electronic consultations from Mayo physicians, after sending information about a patient’s condition to a secured Mayo website, which can include sending diagnostic imaging and other test results. The Mayo consultation will be sent back within 48 hours.
The benefit to patients locally is potentially not having to travel to a large research-focused medical center for treatment of a challenging medical problem.
“We share our knowledge to help local providers accelerate innovation in their health care,” said Dr. Stephan Lange, medical director for Mayo’s network in the Southeast.
Mayo’s primary hospital campus is in Rochester, Minn., and it has a Florida satellite hospital in Jacksonville and a location in Phoenix.
Dr. Allen Weiss, NCH’s president and chief executive officer, said NCH wants to learn from the best.
“We will get best practices from the most esteemed health-care organization in the world,” he said.
Ultimately, Weiss envisions the local community will benefit by an improved quality of life.
“We think it adds tremendous value to the patients, the physicians and to the community,” he said.
NCH pays a subscription to Mayo and has signed a contract to be an affiliate and to market the relationship. Officials with both hospital systems declined to disclose any contract terms.
Mayo isn’t acquiring any ownership stake in NCH facilities. In turn, Mayo will not have a physical presence in Naples, Lange said.
“We are not going to build buildings. We are not going to deploy staff,” Lange said.
Some local elected leaders see NCH’s relationship with Mayo as helping foster Collier County as a medical tourism destination, to attract people to come to Naples for medical care and rehabilitation.
“This is going to give us another asset to bring people here,” said Naples Mayor John Sorey, who attended a press conference Thursday at NCH. “This is a key element for medical tourism.”
Sorey said he has been meeting with Weiss for some time on how to promote the area for medical tourism. Getting hoteliers on board with rooms designed with rehabilitation in mind is part of the effort. Families from out-of-town patients also need a place to stay locally, Sorey said.
Commissioner Jim Coletta, who also attended NCH’s event, said he has seen NCH reinvent itself four times in the 28 years he’s lived in Collier and was impressed with the announcement.
“This surpasses anything they have done in the past,” Coletta said.
Mayo began developing network affiliations with other hospital systems nationwide a year ago; NCH is its first in Florida and seventh overall. The others are in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire and North Dakota.
Becoming part of Mayo’s network doesn’t mean NCH’s medical staff will be required to use Mayo for referrals or exclusively for consults as an outside expert, Weiss said.
Dr. Adam Frank, medical director of the NCH Heart Institute, said he sees the Mayo relationship as an exciting endeavor, particularly for local doctors to get an almost real-time electronic consultation for challenging cases.
“That will translate into a direct patient benefit,” Frank said.
Frank said his 12 colleagues at the heart institute are welcoming the affiliation and are not put off by it, given Mayo’s reputation.
“Mayo Clinic has such a phenomenal reputation,” Frank said. “For us, as an institution, there are not many Mayo affiliated clinics out there.”
Dr. Jeffrey Heitmann, chief of NCH’s medical staff, said the affiliation brings another clinical tool for local physicians, and may be particularly helpful for how to address some pediatric cases and genetic disorders.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to get a diagnosis and getting a consultation will be helpful,” Heitmann said.
Lee Memorial Health System in Lee County has had a similar agreement for two years with Massachusetts General Cancer Center for cancer care, Lee Memorial spokeswoman Mary Briggs said.
“It is incumbent on all hospitals and health systems to assure up-to-date clinical protocols, best practices and timely use of evidence based medicine,” she said. “Patients benefit from an affiliation like this because it gives their physicians access to world-class specialists and improves coordination of care.”
The NCH Healthcare System has entered into an affiliation with the Mayo Clinic to tap into the clinic's expertise for improving patient care, hospital officials announced this morning.
By becoming a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, NCH physicians can upload information about a patient's condition to Mayo's database of best medical practices and get a response from Mayo's expertise in 48 hours.
"We share our knowledge to help local providers accelerate innovation in their health care," said Dr. Stephan Lange, Mayo's medical director for it's network for the Southeast.
Mayo's primary hospital campus is in Rochester, Minn., and it has a Florida campus in Jacksonville and a third location in Phoenix.
NCH has been working on the details of the agreement for three years. Mayo has been fostering alliances with numerous hospital systems and NCH is the seventh affiliation.
Dr. Allen Weiss, president and chief executive officer of NCH, said NCH wants to learn from the best.
"We will get best practices from the most esteemed health care organization in the world," he said.
One advantage for patients is not having to travel to gain Mayo's expertise, except when medically necessary.