November 11, 2015

Week 1 – Inception

By mary

dasami-value-mapping.JPG-1024x621Over the last few years, the Mayo Clinic Education shield has been asking ourselves how we could take online learning for healthcare professionals to the next level. We've been asking ourselves whether Mayo Clinic can be online learning innovators, and have been exploring what this innovation capability could and should look like. Fast-forward to the present day: we have just kicked off a 4-month effort where we are going to test out how an innovation team would work. We will be ideating, prototyping and testing two ideas for online learning over these 4 months, and sharing weekly updates with you here.

Here is Week #1.


Last Monday, we met in our rehabilitated mailroom in the Gonda building to kick things off. There are two dedicated Mayo people on the project, Abhi Bikkani and Jeannie Poterucha Carter, plus an oversight board including Dr. Mark Warner, Dr. Dick Berger, Scott Seinola, and Barbara Baasch Thomas. We also pulled in a specialist digital innovation firm called Neo to partner with us during the project.


At a high level, our mission is pretty straightforward. We want to figure out how to make life-long learning for healthcare professionals more robust, accessible, efficient and effective.

We have a number of ambitious, high-level goals that serve as our north star. Here are three important ones, which we wrote in the form of headlines:

  • “Better medicine through better learning” — 50% of our customers (whether internal or external to Mayo) see better patient outcomes because of our service.
  • “Mayo creates the go-to learning system for medicine” — 25% of healthcare professionals in the USA are using our product/service.
  • “Innovation Lab pays its own way” — products from the lab have the potential to be break-even or better by year 3.


Our goal at the beginning of the project is to come up with a number of interesting product ideas. This can only be done from an informed position. We are developing our point of view through in-depth interviews of potential customers and expert advisors.

We have identified NPs and PAs as a growing, fast-changing, integral segment of the advanced care team which could be an interesting place to start. We interviewed 17 NP/PAs over this first week week, sent the Neo team to observe how the pediatric orthopedic team shared information (thanks to Kathy Augustine), and recruited a large number of NP/PAs from outside of Mayo at this NP/PA Internal Medicine Review conference (thanks to Jane Linderbaum).

We also sat down with the Center for Innovation, Sim Center, AME team, in addition to a number of education experts such as Dr. David Cook, Mike O’Brien and Dr. Farrell Lloyd (and more!).

team-discussion.jpg-1024x612INITIAL OBSERVATIONS

We have already seen some interesting patterns from our qualitative research. For example, people told us role of Residents in hospitals has really changed over the last few years, which has impacted NP/PAs. We’ve seen how much learning at Mayo comes from conferences and talks, but also how much knowledge sharing really comes through the relationships that we all develop across Mayo. We have an assumption that healthcare professionals at other organizations struggle with continued education because they don’t have access to all that Mayo can offer. We are working next to prove or disprove that statement.

We asked people about their best learning experiences. A common expected answer was dynamic speakers, but also ranking high were simulation exercises. A surprising and very interesting answer was a story about listening to patients, rather than doctors, talk about their experience.

We’ve heard how people use Ask Mayo Expert versus Up-To-Date (give me a quick, practical answer versus give me the backup research), and how uninspired people are by the current state of online learning. And while it is clear how busy everyone is, we have seen just how much time and effort Mayo employees put into constant learning and being the best practitioners they can be.


While much of the week was dedicated to qualitative research, the oversight board met on Friday to discuss and prioritize the critical filters we are going to use to choose what ideas to test. Here are our filters, in our current order:

  1. Testable in the time frame we have (i.e. we believe that we can get meaningful data in 4 weeks of testing, using a “lean startup” approach)
  2. Connection to patient outcomes
  3. Compelling business model
  4. Fit with our market share goal (25% of USA healthcare professionals)
  5. Investment capital required to establish an initial beachhead of success
  6. Clear of overlap with existing units or projects
  7. Unique competitive advantage (confidence that we can be 10x better than the competition)
  8. Confidence that the market timing is right
  9. Team passion



The next two weeks are focused on brainstorming and continued learning about the market, problem space, and existing competitors. We are collecting and investigating ideas as we go along, with the next step of prioritizing our ideas and choosing the first one to test.

So there you have our summary of week 1. Reach out if you have any questions. Our goal is to be as transparent as we can.

Tags: Inception, Weekly Updates


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