Inside Health Care at the Mayo Clinic

Robin Roberts explores the clinic's goal of quality care at a low cost.

ByABC News via logo
September 3, 2009, 9:55 PM

Sept. 4, 2009— -- "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts visited the Mayo Clinic to find out more about what some people call a radically different approach to practicing medicine -- providing high-level care at a low cost.

This nonprofit medical center, headquartered in Rochester, Minn., has sites in three states with more than 3,300 physicians, researches and scientists treating more than 500,000 people each year, according to its Web site.

Its approach has attracted prominent admirers, including President Obama, who has said it provides some of the best care in the world.

"It turns out Mayo provides care much more cheaply than a lot of other health systems, even though it's better care," Obama said at a health care town hall in Annandale, Va., July 1, 2009.

Although many Americans like to believe that more is better, a study conducted by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care at Dartmouth University found that overall costs were reduced by performing only the tests that Mayo Clinic doctors deemed absolutely necessary.

While it is hard to escape the traditional thinking that running more tests equals better care, the Mayo Clinic also encourages doctors to look elsewhere for the answers.

"People who are just starting out, like us, we are more likely to order X-ray, CT, MRI, blood work, all of these fancy genetic tests that we have available," said Dr. Sylvia Jaramillo. "And a lot of times the answer is in the history."

Tune in to "Nightline" next Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, for more on this story following President Obama's address to Congress on health care.