At the Edge of Possible

Editor's note: This article was first published June 2020 and was updated May 2022.

Mayo Clinic is creating a new paradigm for health care — one we all want, but can barely imagine.

We have a vision in which health care cures more people, reaches more lives and is available anytime, anywhere.

Under the leadership of John Halamka, M.D., Mayo Clinic Platform is revolutionizing health care at a time when change in the health care environment has rapidly accelerated. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for remote monitoring as well as the need to accelerate our ability to find new diagnostics, treatments and cures. Mayo Clinic must move quickly — the needs of the patient cannot wait.

John D. Halamka, M.D., sees an entirely new future for health care.

More cures. Earlier diagnoses. Treatments tailored to each person at a precise moment. Healthier populations. The scourge of potential global pandemics eradicated just as they emerge.

How? Through Mayo Clinic's bold vision to transform the current state of health care — a revolution to be led by a patient-centered organization committed to harnessing the full potential of technology and data to serve patients everywhere.

Dr. Halamka, an emergency room physician with a deep medical informatics background, joined Mayo Clinic in 2020 to bring the vision to life as the first president of Mayo Clinic Platform.

Mayo Clinic Platform is a coordinated portfolio of products focused on transforming health care by unlocking the ever-increasing potential of technology, big data and artificial intelligence to make connections that were previously difficult to achieve. In his role, Dr. Halamka is helping Mayo Clinic develop new ways of thinking, new partnerships and new specialized skills to meet evolving patient needs while adhering to Mayo’s long-standing values.

It’s a more aspirational charge than ever before for Dr. Halamka, who has been developing and implementing health care information strategy and policy for more than 25 years. He has previously led initiatives at Beth Israel Lahey Health and Harvard Medical School and for the presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

And while his extensive experience positions him as a global leader in technology and medicine, Dr. Halamka emphasizes that it is Mayo Clinic's patient-centered commitment to digital health care that will ultimately power transformation by creating the first truly integrated medical platform.

"There are rare moments in history when technology, policy and urgency to change converge," says Dr. Halamka. "I call that the 'perfect storm for innovation.' My experience over the past few months has convinced me that Mayo Clinic will define a new health care paradigm over the next decade.”

An Accelerated Timeline

The COVID-19 crisis has confirmed and accelerated Mayo Clinic's 2030 strategic direction to create the health care of the future through Mayo Clinic Platform. The pandemic response has demanded connected, coordinated, data-driven actions — precisely the type of orchestration for which Mayo Clinic Platform is designed.

"We were talking about health care in 2030," says Dr. Halamka, "but what we are seeing now is that 2030 is arriving today because COVID-19 has reshaped the culture and the policy around the use of technology. And anything we thought would take a decade to do is going to be an expectation for next year. We're going to have more demand for telemedicine, telehealth, hospital-level care in the home, wearables, and the ability to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence to new data sources for cure plans. That's going to be here very soon because we have changed so much, so fast with COVID-19."

For example, Dr. Halamka has helped spearhead the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition involving many global organizations, large health care facilities and labs. The coalition has worked in real time to increase COVID-19 testing capacity for the country, coordinate treatment research and accelerate vaccine development.

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Mayo Clinic Platform

Earlier diagnoses. More accurate diagnoses. Care personalized for each person. Hospital-level care at home. World-class care in every neighborhood. Mayo Clinic Platform is creating a world where the best possible care is available to everyone, everywhere.

As new technologies create novel opportunities and approaches, Mayo Clinic Platform is harnessing these new technologies to change how care is provided. Mayo Clinic Platform offers products that help:

Gather — Collect, harmonize, curate, de-identify and store data to create one common repository of evidence-based knowledge.

Discover — Develop algorithms and insights from de-identified data to accelerate diagnostic certainty and personalize treatments.

Validate — Evaluate and certify quality, bias and accuracy of algorithms.

Deliver — Integrate insights into workflow and share knowledge.

Industry Transformation Leader

Dr. Halamka’s considerable knowledge and expertise in technology, medicine and global health care are helping to quickly advance the mission of Mayo Clinic Platform. As new technologies create novel opportunities and approaches, Mayo Clinic Platform is harnessing these to change how care is provided. Mayo Clinic Platform's suite of products — Gather, Discover, Validate and Deliver — are leading to faster development and deployment of health care solutions, at a higher quality and lower cost. Mayo Clinic Platform is transforming health care by leveraging data and technology to deliver earlier and more accurate diagnoses, personalized care and hospital-level care at home. These key initiatives will allow Mayo to explore ways to bring care into the home, speed the discovery of new diagnostics and therapies, and form actionable insights using data from wearable devices.

To support this work, Mayo Clinic is building policies, resources, technology and other infrastructure necessary to facilitate agility, innovation and data privacy. Additionally, Mayo has formed strategic partnerships — including a cloud partnership with Google to enable platform activities — and has made investments in data organization and computing capabilities to unlock key insights in massive amounts of data.

“It’s challenging to predict the future because technology is evolving so quickly,” remarks Dr. Halamka. “The hope is that, as the work of Mayo Clinic Platform goes forward, there becomes a societal expectation that care is coordinated, that patients are getting the best advice from the best experts, and that specialists are watching patient data as it’s generated to make sure patients have the best opportunities for care.”

This ambitious portfolio of work driven by Mayo Clinic Platform will continually evolve and expand to solve unmet patient needs.

Unwavering Dedication to Patient Privacy and the Mayo Clinic Model of Care

Increased use of patient data in health care requires a firm commitment to protecting privacy. To ensure patient privacy in new environments, Mayo Clinic Platform experts have incorporated 11 layers of protection.

“Mayo has the most unique privacy model that exists in the health care world,” Dr. Halamka says, citing the rigor the institution uses to de-identify data and then certify the de-identification by external experts. “Once all the data are fully de-identified and certified as de-identified, we bring innovators into Mayo to use tools to build knowledge, and the knowledge leaves Mayo, but the data is always under our protection and control.”

In addition to keeping data safe, Mayo Clinic Platform is focused on strengthening the Mayo Clinic Model of Care. For more than 100 years, Mayo Clinic has excelled in its ability to collaborate and integrate knowledge and expertise to benefit individual patients. At the same time, the amount of medical knowledge has increased at a pace that surpasses human understanding. 

“We’re to the point where there’s so much data that physicians need augmentation so they have more time for the patient," says Dr. Halamka. "The idea is to take the knowledge of the world and make it available through augmentation of human capabilities.”

With 25 million tissue samples and 30 million pathology slides, Mayo Clinic is positioned to create the largest, deepest and most informative collection of biomedical data in the world. The organization will be able to combine millions of de-identified patient records with the latest medical literature to provide physicians everywhere with the best treatment options and knowledge.

By fully realizing the untapped potential of data and technology, Dr. Halamka and his colleagues are bringing the world closer to health care experiences where everyone can confidently expect answers, simplicity, convenience, affordability and accessibility.

Realizing the Vision

The world is changing quickly, and Mayo Clinic is rapidly accelerating its Platform efforts to meet evolving patient needs. Dr. Halamka is passionate about developing the tools that will bring this vision to life to benefit people everywhere, including his own family.

“When my wife, who is Korean, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, she had a very simple question," he recalls. "Of all Korean women, age 50, who have stage 3 breast cancer, what treatment is best? There has never been an article written on that topic, but there are hundreds of thousands of Asian women who have had breast cancer treatment. And therefore, if we have the right tools, we could ask, what was the success or failure of treatments of the past for women like my wife? That information would bring tremendous value to patients.”

Mayo Clinic Platform will help answer questions such as this and many more. In the coming months and years, experts will crystallize what is best about Mayo Clinic as they lead a revolution in health care. Philanthropy will be crucial to expediting this work.

“Mayo Clinic has visionary leadership, a remarkable culture and staff, and a willingness to take risks,” Dr. Halamka says. “We're going to figure out what works and make those technologies available to the world. I have not found an organization in this country as poised as Mayo is to do that.”

Stories of Hope
Stories of Hope
Stories of Hope