CASE 31 International Marketing Research at
the Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic, known for treating international leaders, recently saw the president of a central Africa country in its halls. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, was in Rochester, New York, for a checkup, clinic ofﬁcials conﬁrmed. Security ofﬁcers and limousines—not an uncommon sight in Rochester—signaled his visit.
Nguema Mbasogo assumed the leadership of his country
with a coup that overthrew his uncle. His country recently
began working with the U.S. Agency for International Development, under the leadership of a dean of the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, to improve Equatorial Guinea’s social services. Dean J. Brian Atwood of the institute is overseeing this effort. He went to Equatorial Guinea in June, and a second meeting is scheduled for this month.
The Mayo Clinic has a long international history, providing
care to international patients since its inception. Despite its history and reputation, however, the marketing staff continues to monitor the international market to gauge the level of awareness, reputation, and attractiveness of the Mayo Clinic around the world. This institution has used word-of-mouth marketing to maintain its global reputation.
Marketing, as most formally deﬁned, historically was not a critical factor in delivering patients to Mayo Clinic. Indeed, the marketing department at Mayo Clinic has existed for only the past 20 years, and patients have been coming for care for more than a century. The Clinic believes that the marketing department provides valuable information to physicians and their support staff— information that helps them deliver better care, highlights their patients’ wants and needs, and educates them as to what’s going on in the marketplace.
In reality, however, it’s the providers themselves—the doctors, nurses, receptionists, and all the rest of the allied health staff—who bring in business by creating positive experiences for patients. Patients who leave Mayo Clinic highly satisﬁed with their care will return to their communities in the United States and elsewhere and say good things to their family and friends. And these family members and friends in turn travel to Mayo Clinic when they need tertiary or quaternary medical care. Although the marketing division strives to provide excellent internal support, it is the doctors and other care providers who have created and maintained a brand of healthcare excellence.
Despite the hype surrounding what has been presented as
the highly lucrative international marketplace, “international” is not something new at Mayo Clinic. Experience and research indicates that “international” is a part of who the Clinic is, as well as how the market deﬁnes it. Nearly 100 years ago, the founders, a family of physicians named “Mayo,” created an international legacy by traveling around the world to compare notes and surgical approaches with physicians across the globe. In some cases, they even returned with international patients who were in need of additional expertise. As in so many other areas of medical practice, the current Mayo Clinic continues in these traditions.
In recent years, however, it has begun to study the international patient population in particular and the international marketplace in general. These studies fall into a few categories and grow in number in proportion to the organization’s understanding (or perhaps greater understanding of how much it does not know) of the international marketplace.
First, the Mayo Clinic tracks international patient trends rather carefully, which seems like an obvious place to start. But as in most data tracking, the value of the concept is signiﬁcantly more straightforward than the logistics of acquiring consistently reliable data. Internal data systems must be coordinated—a signiﬁcant undertaking for...
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