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Mayo expanding collaboration to St. Cloud with new cancer treatment network

MINNEAPOLIS - Mayo Clinic said Tuesday that it is launching a nationwide cancer treatment network that will give various health systems access to its physicians.

Coborn Cancer Center in St. Cloud will be the first member of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Care Network. Under the collaboration, Coborn will share medical records with Mayo physicians, which could save patients time and money when seeking a second opinion. Mayo said the partnership formalizes a long-standing relationship with Coborn.

Rochester-based Mayo, acclaimed for its advances in medical treatment, already has its Clinic Care Network, which has partnered with Grand Forks-based Altru Health System and one other. Mayo says its new initiative is an extension this network and it hopes to forge other partnerships.

"The purpose of the network, from our perspective, is to form even stronger relationships with thriving, independent local health care systems," said Dr. David Hayes, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. "We really think the answer to health care improvement ... is to start to integrate knowledge and expertise across institutions whenever we can do that."

Dr. Donald Jurgens, Coborn's medical oncologist, emphasized the agreement is a collaboration. "This isn't a merger or an acquisition or an initial step toward either of those," he said.

Mayo announced its Mayo Clinic Care Network last year. Besides Altru, with 20 locations in Minnesota and North Dakota, there is Kingman Regional Medical Center in Kingman, Ariz.

Health care providers in both networks pay a subscription fee to Mayo. Hayes declined to disclose revenue figures. The networks let doctors consult with Mayo medical specialists, gain access to a database on medical conditions and get administrative consulting, according to Mayo's website.

"It allows Mayo to extend its knowledge expertise remotely and become top of mind if a patient does indeed need complex care," Hayes said.

Mayo's collaborations come at a time when Dakotas-based Sanford Health System is aggressively expanding its presence in Minnesota. Last year, Sanford Health purchased Broadway Medical Center in Alexandria, after more than doubling its footprint in the state over the last decade.