Leading an Industry: Mayo Clinic Rolls out Center for Social Media

When my cousin was a little over one year of age, her parents discovered that she couldn't walk. An otherwise bright and happy child, she was facing a life of physical therapy aimed at treating symptoms. Eventually, who knows, a nice institution with others just like her. My aunt wasn't going to give up looking.

She stumbled on a book written by this American physical therapist, who maintained that a brain injury was to be treated at the brain level, where the cause resided.

All of a sudden, my cousin had access to a different kind of neurological development treatment, one that would allow her to walk 9 years later. In the process, our family was transformed. Partly by finding a physical support network of other families with whom to share visits, key learning, and war stories.

Fast forward to six years ago. A colleague tells me about the community of people and their families who are dealing with epilepsy, just like her family. At the time, it was her best resource and support group, the go-to place for finding out what people have tried, and what has worked for them.

Parents know what's going on with their children. We know what we feel, when something is off, and we're willing to share to find out what that is. Brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor lived to tell us an amazing story. Thanks to her testimonial, we know more about what may happen.

We're not so patient when it comes to our health, we want to participate in driving what happens next. And so we should. The data in this video is over a year old. The numbers may be higher today.

Are health care organizations equipped to deal with this new reality?

According to Ed Bennett’s Hospital Social Networking List, only 762 of the more than 5,000 hospitals in the U.S. have some social networking presence. Demand for health-related online information and support is strong and will only be increasing.

Yesterday, Mayo Clinic announced the creation of a Center for Social Media
to accelerate effective application of social media tools throughout
Mayo Clinic and to spur broader and deeper engagement in social media by
hospitals, medical professionals and patients to improve health

See the Q&A on WSJ health blog.


My aunt found a book had the answer she was seeking. It was a forum board for my colleague. The support mechanism for you or a loved one may be a community self-organized around a specific problem, or the blog of someone with the courage and the desire to share their experience. 


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0 responses to “Leading an Industry: Mayo Clinic Rolls out Center for Social Media”

  1. This is very cool. Health care is at the front of every American’s mind recently, and one of the premiere health care and research institutions in the world is right in the middle of our online marketing discussions. How much more compelling can we make our case to our local businesses who doubt the veracity of online media and online marketing?
    I especially love that Socilnomics video Mayo is using on their blog. That is one of my favorite videos to show Doubting Thomases …
    In my case, marketing local business online, your blog post and all of this that Mayo is doing is quite precious for my business today. Thank you.
    Best Regards,
    Mike Schleif

  2. I started specializing in health care communications after not having these kinds of resources to help me cope with tough health situations with kids and close friends. The advances in online health information over the past decade is incredible. But obviously there is so much more than can be done.
    A lot of health care providers are afraid of liability and are waiting to see what the FDA will come out with in terms of guidance. Regardless of how detailed the guidelines are, it’s still going to take common sense to engage in a way that doesn’t reveal patient identities or history. Their focus has to be on medical information and not medical advise (ie prescribing treatment). Another issue is how to monetize the time they spend online.
    But the reality is that e-patients are online looking for reliable information and whether or not providers get involved, the conversation is already happening.
    The Mayo Clinic is leading the way and I think it’s an exciting step that they’ve created this social media center.
    I just came across a good SlideShare presentation by the Pew Internet Project you might be interested in. It’s still based on year old data but it brings up some interesting issues by segmenting the e-patient population (http://bit.ly/a8F11D ). Based on their numbers, internet communication is serving a large population, but it doesn’t help the majority of those with low incomes and less education (often the ones with poorer health habits). What’s interesting (but not surprising) is that internet usage is almost even between rural and urban populations. So as rural areas face a shortage of primary care physicians, online support may become even more practical and essential.
    If any of your followers are interested in getting more involved with the healthcare social media conversation, there is a pretty lively chat group on Twitter Sunday evenings (9 p.m. EST) at #hcsm.
    Thanks for this post Valeria. It helps move the conversation forward.

  3. @Mike – fear of the unknown is a very strong motivator. There is always a herd mechanism at play with companies and, in different form, with people. Managing risk is one of the two key functions of any business. The other one, of course, is making a profit, or staying in business. We had the same issues with the Web at first. Companies didn’t have a Web site, weren’t planning to get one, etc. New things are scary, people seek to find rules. Social media is so new, and it’s not become boring enough for us to start to utilize at its greater potential.
    @Lisa – common sense is not that common 😉 Thank you for the link to the presentation. I put a space between the URL and the parentheses so the link is now live. TypePad is not the friendliest with links and spaces. good tip on the chat group, too.

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