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 ...view middle of the document...
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
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
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 any institution, and particularly hard when dealing with a large and complicated infrastructure. To give a simple
example, data ﬁelds must be made uniform—not just on one data
system, but on all of them. Rather than a free-text ﬁeld, for example, that allows a registrant to enter Venzuela, or Venosuela, or
Vensuala, or maybe even Venezuela, the Mayo Clinic pushes for a
predeﬁned ﬁeld that provides standardized information.
The Clinic monitors international data by the quarter, carefully
watching trends over time by country or region, tracking signiﬁcant changes in volume, hospitalization rates, and percentage of
new patients out of any given market. For example, it knows it
has between 9,000 and 10,000 patients, depending on the year,
from more than 160 different countries annually. Some are thirdgeneration patients—maybe their grandfather was cured there in
the 1930s—and others are brand new. Some are neighbors from
Ontario or Monterrey; others come all the way from Indonesia.
Some markets are signiﬁcantly less predictable...