Mayo Clinic Targets Ultra-Wealthy
The Mayo Clinic, one of the nation’s most prominent hospitals, is starting to flex its muscle in the field of medical concierge services for the wealthy.
The Minneapolis-based hospital this year started to ramp up efforts to market its Preferred Response service—a membership program that provides medical transportation and emergency services all over the world—to business travelers, travel clubs for the wealthy and other segments of the ultra-affluent market. The expansion of Preferred Response comes three years after the hospital launched its Medallion program, a concierge medical service that devotes a team of doctors to its subscribers’ primary medical care needs.
The push comes at a time when some of the nation’s top hospitals are looking to the well-heeled to increase revenues and make greater use of their more expensive, high-tech medical capabilities. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, for example, has offered a similar concierge transportation service for years.
“Prominent hospitals are looking at any ways they can to leverage expertise to generate revenue streams,” said Dr. Clayton T. Cowl, Preferred Response medical director. “Access [to medical care] is going to be the key.”
Paying For Access
The drive to market Mayo Clinic Preferred Response to the wealthy is based heavily on the public’s desire for medical access. The program has been part of the Mayo Clinic for more than a decade, originally as a service for dealing with in-flight medical emergencies. The program has since grown more expansive, with the ability to coordinate care and transportation when members are facing a medical emergency far from home.
The Mayo Clinic’s standing as one of the oldest and largest U.S. hospitals gives it an advantage in selling this type of service. The hospital has a network of 3,700 practicing physicians and 18,000 alumni practicing medicine globally—a useful resource, the hospital notes, when trying to line up emergency treatment for members who are halfway around the world.
In addition to the transportation, Preferred Response provides its members with around-the-clock medical support via a toll-free number; medical travel planning, including the preparation of custom medical kits; and coordination of medical care.
“The idea is, we want to create a relationship—not just a doctor visit or two a year—no matter where you are in the world,” Cowl said.
Cutting The Line
As President Barack Obama’s health reforms start to kick in, bringing millions more people into the health system, increased waiting times for appointments and treatments are expected to become larger issues with patients.
The selling point for Preferred Response and other medical concierge services is that they allow those who can pay a premium to basically cut in line, according to industry experts.
“Ultimately, we’re in an era right now where lots more people are going to have insurance and the key I think is going to be access and connectivity,” Cowl said. “In a time of need, you don’t want to be fumbling around asking which of these 14 numbers I need to dial.”
The base membership fee for Preferred Response is $650 per year for individuals and $800 for families. The fee does not include hospital and doctors’ fees, according to a hospital spokesman.
These resources have enabled Preferred Response to respond to emergencies throughout the world, ranging from instances where a subscriber fell down a flight of stairs in Turkey to another where a member suffered from a heart attack while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico. In one recent episode, a member suffered a punctured lung while on a bicycle tour in China. Preferred Response arranged for his treatment and transportation a few days later to the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, Cowl said.