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May 19th, 2015

A New Benchmark – Delegation from Japan’s Health Ministry Visits Mayo

By In the Loop

Delegation from Japan's Ministry of Health visits Mayo ClinicWhen you hear a guest reciting, in so many words, your organization's primary value, you know you've done a good job communicating what you're all about. So Tom Witt, M.D., must have felt pretty good when Maki Kobayashi of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, nodded in response to one of his statements and said, knowingly, "The patient comes first." Dr. Witt was discussing how Mayo Clinic Health System works with Mayo Clinic and how decisions are made. It was just the kind of thing Ms. Kobayashi and her colleagues were hoping to learn.

The discussion took place in the board room at Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. A three-member delegation from Japan had come to learn how Mayo Clinic Health System works and interacts with Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Dr. Witt, CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls, Lake City and Red Wing, was joined by Steve Gudgell, CAO for Cannon Falls, Lake City and Red Wing, and Bill Priest, administrator in Cannon Falls. The delegation from Japan included Eiji Habu, director, General Affairs Division, Health Policy Bureau; Tadayuki Mizuno, head deputy director; and Maki Kobayashi, assistant director.

The visitors seemed impressed by how much was offered in a small hospital. And they were particularly keen on learning about relationships among the institutions, and how affiliations affect patients and staff. Mr. Habu noted through an interpreter that as the Japanese population is aging, they're looking at how to change the clinical care system in his country. As part of that change, he said, they're looking to create alliances among smaller clinics and hospitals. The delegation's mission was to learn how Mayo operates its health system and "integrate into our system what we learned." They were surprised by how far Mayo's health system had come in terms of integration.

The visit had its roots in Davos, Switzerland. At the World Economic Forum last fall, John Noseworthy, M.D., Mayo's president and CEO, met Japan's Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, who shared that he would like to have some colleagues visit Mayo Clinic to learn about the organization. The ensuing visit, which happened last week, included discussion of the Mayo Model of Care, a historical tour of Mayo Clinic, and an overview of Mayo Clinic Health System, among other things.

Eiji Habu placed a 1,000 Yen note into the front hall bannister where Dr. Will and Hattie Mayo would keep cash. There was also a dinner hosted by Mayo's Hirohito Kita, M.D., chair of Allergic Diseases Research, at Mayo Foundation House, the historic home of William J. Mayo, M.D. We're told the visitors were impressed with the home and its history. Joe O'Keefe, Public Affairs, a friend of In the Loop, showed them the secret compartment in the front hall bannister where Dr. Will and Hattie Mayo would keep cash to pay for deliveries and such. Today, the bannister holds a collection of foreign currency placed there by guests. Eiji Habu reached into his wallet and placed a 1,000 Yen note (around 8 U.S. dollars) into the bannister. Mr. Habu said the image on the note was of one of Japan's most prestigious physicians, Hideyo Noguchi. The symbolism, in the former home of one of this country's most prestigious physicians, wasn't lost on the group, O'Keefe says.

Robert Nesse, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System, presented the delegation with a gift on behalf of Mayo Clinic and Dr. Noseworthy, as well as a note to take back to Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Japan's Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, thanking him for sending the delegation and for his friendship. "We welcomed the opportunity to share our experience and look forward to following the transformation of health care in Japan," Dr. Nesse says.

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Tags: Dr Robert Nesse, Dr Tom Witt, Mayo Clinic Health System, Practice story

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