Mayo Clinic Collaboration's First Anniversary

NorthBay Healthcare and Mayo Clinic Care Network marked the one-year anniversary of their collaborative relationship on May 25, celebrating a year of accelerating momentum.

In the first 12 months of the collaboration, 24 NorthBay physicians across 13 specialty fields submitted 122 eConsults, an electronic connection in which Mayo experts and NorthBay clinicians discuss complex medical cases. That is a pace that Mayo Clinic leaders say is among the quickest they have seen for a new member of the network.

Cover of Mayo Clinic magazine

When the collaboration with Mayo Clinic was announced in the spring of 2016, NorthBay Healthcare became the only hospital in Northern California to become part of the network, which now includes more than 40 health care organizations across the country and around the world.

The relationship with Mayo provides the experience of more than 4,000 physicians and scientists to give a second opinion, a second set of eyes or simply to weigh in on complex cases.

NorthBay physicians and community immediately embraced this collaboration. Added Aimee Brewer, president of NorthBay Healthcare Group, “For the patients, it provides the confidence that NorthBay can provide them the most advanced medicine right here, close to home. For our physicians, they get not only confirmation that they are following the right course with their patients, but occasionally they receive information on new, more advanced ways to treat a condition.”

Urologist Herkanwal Khaira, M.D., has seen firsthand how the collaboration is providing peace of mind and strengthening his doctor-patient relationships.

“If I have a patient and I tell him, 'You have prostate cancer and your treatment options are this, this and this,' and they are struggling with what decision to make because of the myriad of choices, having an authority or expert opinion that suggests the same process makes them much more comfortable to proceed,” said Dr. Khaira.

This sharing of information and treatment options comes through the eConsult process, an electronic method for a Mayo Clinic specialist to answer a physician's focused question about diagnosis, therapy or management through a review of the patient's electronic medical record, imaging studies and laboratory tests.

Dr. Khaira submitted 14 eConsults, second only to oncologist James Long, M.D., NorthBay's physician champion for the collaboration since its inception, who submitted 23.

Dr. Khaira uses the eConsults and Mayo Clinic information in multiple cases including complex diagnoses like kidney cancer and in situations involving uncommon diagnoses, he said.

With eConsults, NorthBay doctors can submit the patient's information and test results and the experts at Mayo Clinic can review and advise without the patient having to travel out of the area. And the Mayo Clinic reviews can often include information about clinical trials and studies that doctors here may not have been aware of.

“As a doctor, I want my patients to have confidence in me and what I am saying to them. To get these authoritative opinions reaffirms the things we've discussed,” said Dr. Khaira. “They see we are on the same page and that 'Hey, this guy knows what he's talking about.' It reinforces that doctor-patient relationship.”