Officials for the Mayo Clinic say they know how to fix parts of the health care system that will remain broken even after major elements of the ACA kick in next year.

The U.S. health care system suffers from uneven quality, skyrocketing costs and a lack of tools to help patients spend wisely, says Mayo President and CEO John Noseworthy, M.D. As a result, America's health care system is lagging in quality and creating financial stress for its citizens and businesses, inviting drastic change. "The United States desperately needs innovation," says Noseworthy, who outlined Mayo's framework in a speech yesterday to the National Press Club in Washington. The speech also was webcasted.

But if health care providers, researchers and the federal government made better use of the growing amount of clinical data becoming available, and more rapidly shared advancements in care, health care quality could be improved and costs lowered, Noseworthy argues. Federal funding of medical research also needs to be maintained, he says.

Mayo's three-part plan in summary is to deliver knowledge, create value and fund excellence. Unsurprisingly, Mayo would be in a strong position to contribute to and benefit from its plan.

The knowledge delivery portion of the plan — trying to ensure that the highest quality of care is made available to patients — is at the center of a clinical network it's developing with 15 organizations so far.

Instead of trying to grow through acquisition, Mayo executives are attempting to grow by capitalizing on the organization's knowledge base and expect to have more than double that number of partners within 18 months.

"We have come to realize that Mayo's most scalable product is our knowledge," Noseworthy says. Mayo also is creating an electronic book of best practice protocols and hospital orders for public and business use.

Mayo officials also believe that their January alliance with Optum, a company owned by UnitedHealth Group, holds promise to solve the health care value puzzle. The alliance will marry clinical outcomes and cost data that could reveal what works and doesn't work in health care.

That information, in turn, could be used by such payers as the federal government in a revamped approach to reimbursement for Medicare patients that is more finely tuned than the ACO models in the works, which Noseworthy says are focused on primary care. Care for intermediate and advanced conditions and diseases should be part of the equation, Noseworthy says.

He also made a plea to the federal government to preserve medical research funding to the National Institutes of Health, which are slated to see funding fall $1.5 billion as a result of sequestration. The Mayo Clinic received about $220 million of the more than $30 billion in NIH medical research funding in 2012.

"We need help from the policymakers," he says.

Mayo officials must feel pretty strongly about the matter if they are willing to tackle a federal lobbying effort while trying to garner $500 million in infrastructure improvements from state and local government for the clinic's hometown of Rochester. Mayo is seeking the government funds to complement its stated plan to invest private capital of $3.5 billion in the city over 20 years.

"We just want them to invest in sidewalks and sewers," Noseworthy says. "It's the right thing for Minnesota."