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  • Lloyd Price

Why Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy is betting big on Startups and could partner with Amazon

In an interview with Marketplace's David Brancaccio, Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy shared why Mayo has worked with about 80 startups across the last five years, and he dove into the system's efforts to cut down on wasteful spending.

Shifting course on start-ups—and Mayo's conversations with Amazon-JPMorgan-Berkshire

Noseworthy said that despite Mayo's success under what Brancaccio called "the present system," Mayo is having conversations with "many startup companies" about potential partnerships. Noseworthy explained that because of the rapid pace of technological advances, it's important for Mayo "to bring [its intellectual assets] to scale, and we can only do that if we partner with others."

Noseworthy shared how, five years ago Mayo, "changed our policies to bring and encourage a culture of entrepreneurship amongst our physicians and scientists." Since then, the health system has "had, I think, 80 startups … and some very large partnerships." Going forward, Mayo is interested in working with "life sciences companies, device companies, AI companies," and more, Noseworthy added — all in an effort to "speed the change that's necessary to manage patients who have very serious or a very complex illness."

According to Noseworthy, Mayo brings to the table "expertise" and "know-how," while its partner organizations provide "engineers and developers and software people and so on." While Noseworthy said such partnerships can help speed up innovation, Noseworthy acknowledged Mayo has had to act cautiously to ensure that it doesn't "destroy what's been such a trusted name in health care."

Noseworthy also addressed the recent partnership between Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway.

"We don't have a high-quality, sustainable, affordable health care system in America. And folks are looking at that and saying 'What could I bring to that?'" Noseworthy said. "Of course, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway can bring capital, logistics, know-how, technology, [and] price transparency."

Noseworthy added that the three companies have "reached out" to Mayo and that Mayo has "talked with them about what the opportunities are."

He added, "We don't see [Amazon-JPMorgan-Berkshire] as a threat. We see it as important and as exciting. All of this disruptive investing and coming together will, we believe, help with the problem that every American is facing, and that is how are they going to pay for health care."

Curbing waste in health care—by minimizing repeat visits

Noseworthy also addressed what he sees as a major source of waste in the health care industry: requiring patients to make repeated trips to their doctor to figure out how to treat their condition. "Perhaps 20 or 30% of [waste in the health care system] comes from not getting the answer right the first time," he said, "and meanwhile, there are patients who have things that can be cured or managed better, and time goes by and they get worse."

Mayo is working to address that issue, aiming to minimize such repeat trips by getting it "right the first time, so the patient knows what's ahead of [him or her]," Noseworthy said. Then, according to Noseworthy, the next step is simply "do[ing] what the right thing to do is, and if it's something very expensive and life changing or curative … that saves money in the long term" (Brancaccio/Oshinskie, Marketplace, 5/24).

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