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Mayo hopes its tests transform health care

This is a test, this is only a test.

But it might become permanent.

Mayo Clinic has begun testing numerous pilot programs that explore new ways to provide health care, and it hopes they'll transform health care.

"Imagine calling your personal physician when you need an appointment and quickly getting in, imagine being able to e-mail or talk to your physician about a concern without having to go to their office, imagine your personal physician being a call away when you are traveling, imagine a new level of access and personal service," says a Mayo Clinic invitation for a new pilot program.

Clinic officials hope the successful changes will infect the health-care system as a whole and spread nationally.


Some Mayo pilot programs and plans for change have gotten widespread attention, but others have gone almost unnoticed by the general public.

For example, in Arizona, the new concierge program described above is called the "Medallion Program" and is being offered at a Mayo satellite clinic. For an annual fee, patients become one of no more than 300 with access to three physicians.

On any given day, it's unlikely more than two or three patients will need to be seen by any one doctor. That means patients willing to pay the fee will get extraordinarily greater access to their doctors.

"The program will provide direct access to the member's personal physician 24 hours/7 days per week regarding their health problems and concerns," says an invitation to the program. "Each physician will limit the size of his/her practice to ensure personalized care."

Cost for the program is $5,000 annually for an individual, or $8,000 per couple, in addition to normal medical fees.

It's just one example of a multitude of new efforts underway at Mayo systemwide, each testing a different aspect of "The Mayo Effect," Mayo's self-description of low-cost, high-quality care that produces the best patient outcomes while connecting directly with patients.

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