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Book Review: Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic

Posted Sep 07 2008 2:22am

I recently finished reading Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic by Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman. The book provides a glimpse inside one of the most successful health care organizations. While the book illuminates how Mayo Clinic has solved many of its operational issues and how it has built its reputation, the book is overwhelmingly positive. This should not be surprising since Kent Seltman was the director of marketing at Mayo Clinic from 1992 to 2006.

Thus, I would recommend this book for healthcare management professionals as long as it is read with the knowledge that the book is not an unbiased analysis of the Mayo Clinic but more of a chronicle of the Mayo Clinic’s successes.

Some of the highlights from the book are:

  • The Mayo Clinic now employs over 20,000 individuals on its Rochester, MN; Scottsdale, AZ; and Jacksonville, FL campuses.
  • “More than 62% of Mayo Clinic physicians have received some or all of their training at Mayo.” This helps to build a strong collaborative culture at Mayo, it does risk making Mayo insular.
  • While many policy wonks advocate a “team approach” to health care, Mayo Clinics is truly one of the few health care organizations to accomplish this. This is due to the fact that all physicians are employed directly by Mayo, they are paid on a salary basis, and the culture of Mayo is very collaborative.
  • The Mayo Clinic faces the debate of how fast to expand. Expanding its brand (through associated clinics, hospitals, and online contact) and increases revenues but may dilute its brand equity or reputation.
  • The Mayo Clinic was one of the first organizations to organize medical records by patient rather than physician, thus allowing any physician to easily access patient information. In the digital age, Mayo is a leader in EMR.
  • The Mayo Clinic has impressive systems engineering. There is centralized scheduling, and the testing facilities each day are allowed spare capacity to meet the need of current days patients (”downstream demand”), and Six Sigma management practices are in place.
  • Departments are co-headed by physicians and administrators. Physicians make sure that administrators know understand how management choices affect patient care; administrators communicate with physicians so that they understand how medical practices affect patient flow and the bottom line.
  • “The reality of labor intensive service organizations is that their people are their product.”

Berry, Leonard L; Seltman, Kent D. (2008) “ Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic: Inside one of the world’s most admired service organizations,” McGraw-Hill, 256 pages.

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