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Mayo Clinic creates Center for Social Media

Posted Jul 29 2010 8:00am

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

“Mayo Clinic believes individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and that it is our responsibility to help them use social media tools to get the best information, connect with providers and with each other, and inspire healthy choices,” says John Noseworthy, M.D., Mayo Clinic president and CEO.  “Through this center, we intend to lead the health care community in applying these revolutionary tools to spread knowledge and encourage collaboration among providers, improving health care quality everywhere.”

In addition to reaching out, the center’s staff will work with Mayo Clinic colleagues to find new and innovative ways to apply social media tools throughout the Mayo system. “We see immense opportunities to further the use of internal social networking tools for collaboration among our employees to improve patient care, education, research and administration,” says Lee Aase, one of the leaders of the new center.

The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, a first-of-its-kind social media center focused on health care, builds on Mayo Clinic’s leadership among health care providers in adopting social media tools. Some of the services provided by the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media will be:

- Training for health care employees through webinars, in-person and on-site workshops and boot camps, and an online curriculum for self-paced learning and review

- Consulting and coaching to help organizations align social media strategies with business goals, advising on planning and conducting outcomes research

- Conferences and other events that bring people together to learn from Mayo’s experience and from each other. The second Mayo Clinic/Ragan Communications Social Media Summit, to be held Sept. 27-29, 2010, on the Mayo Clinic campus in Florida is an example of this kind of event.

- Resources, including toolkits, manuals, books, white papers, policies and guidelines.

“While hospitals and health care workers will likely be our main focus for these services externally, we also expect to help health-related nonprofits, professional organizations and patient associations,” says Victor Montori, M.D., a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and the center’s interim medical director.  “We want Mayo Clinic to be the authentic voice for patients and medical providers, and also to provide platforms where their voices can be heard.”

Health care has lagged behind other industries in applying social media tools. Only 762 of the more than 5,000 hospitals in the U.S. have some social networking presence. However, social media interest and activity among hospitals and health care professionals has grown remarkably, with the number of hospital Twitter accounts doubling in the last year, for example.

“Staff at many hospitals wanting to get involved in social media have pointed to Mayo Clinic’s activity and experience to help make the case for engagement with their senior leaders,” says Dr. Montori.  “Some have even consulted with us informally and asked for advice on implementation. One of our goals for the center is to provide a mechanism for this consultation and sharing, so we can help colleagues in health care everywhere break down the barriers to involvement.”

Mayo Clinic has the most popular medical provider channel on YouTube and more than 60,000 “followers” on Twitter, as well as an active Facebook page. Mayo also has been a pioneer in hospital blogging, with its News Blog, Podcast Blog and Sharing Mayo Clinic, a blog that enables patients and employees to tell their Mayo Clinic stories. In addition,, Mayo’s consumer health information site, hosts a dozen blogs on topics ranging from Alzheimer’s to The Mayo Clinic Diet.

Mayo Clinic also has been actively using social media tools to engage employees in its business strategies, manage change and share company news. Examples include the Let’s Talk blog, a tool for staff to comment on strategic efforts, ask leaders questions and share their ideas; the twice-weekly In the Loop e-newsletter and blog; and the recently launched the Mayo Effect video and blog, which shares stories of how Mayo employees help Mayo fulfill its mission and vision.

The Center for Social Media will have an advisory team with representatives from throughout Mayo Clinic and an external board of thought leaders to help the center’s leadership identify and provide resources for the most relevant projects. A related international network organized by the center will gather broader input from the health care community and disseminate resources and research findings.

“The center will accelerate adoption of social media in health care, first at Mayo and then within health care,” says Aase.  “Through this work, Mayo Clinic looks to help improve health care literacy, health care delivery and population health worldwide.”

For more information about the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, visit its website at (which will be live on Tuesday, July 27).

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