Do your research, start small, eliminate barriers, and other tips for online patient communities

Last week, as part of social media week at Mayo Clinic, I presented “Tactics and Tools to Begin, Build, and Sustain Online Communities” to members of the Social Media Health Network at their annual meeting. 

I’m thankful to Lee Aase, director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media, for the invitation, and enjoyed sharing some valuable tips with this influential group. We followed a short 15-minute format. The presentation focuses on the most important tips for starting and building community. 

I hope you enjoy the Slideshare embedded below and a handful of the tweets the audience shared. 

If you’re considering starting an online patient community, this webinar is for you!

Are you considering launching an online patient community but aren’t sure where to start?

Would you like to know:

  • the critical research you must complete before you launch your community? 
  • the biggest mistake most new communities make — and how to avoid it? 
  • how to tell if your stakeholders are really on board? 

If so, this webinar is for you. 

On Wednesday, November 12, I’ll be presenting: “Look Before You Leap: 5 Things You Must Know Before You Launch an Online Patient Community.” 

You’ll get the answers to these questions and many more in an informative, helpful 45 minute session with Q&A. You’ll learn the critical steps you must take to lay the foundation for a successful, thriving online patient community – and to avoid an embarrassing failure.

Look Before You Leap:
5 Things You Must Know Before You Launch an Online Patient Community

Wednesday, November 12

1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific 




My good friend and online community partner Dan Dunlop, president of Jennings, will be your host. 

Hive Strategies and Jennings partner with CareHubs, the leading private-label, online patient community platform available today, to bring the healthcare industry easy access to affordable, HIPAA-compliant online patient support communities.

Write a 250-word blogpost using 7-10 word sentences?

During yesterday’s Social Media Residency at Mayo Clinic, community manager Meredith Gould challenged us to write blogposts from 250-400 words in length with 7-10 word sentences. 

Clearly I’ve already failed on the sentence length. That opening sentence was 28 words (is 250-400 one word or two?). But her point is well-taken. Content for community should be:

  • short
  • crisp
  • to the point
  • (and use bullets to enhance readability when possible)

Whether it’s a blog post, featured news, discussion question for your community, member profile, or community rules, how it reads and how it looks online is critical. 

There were many other gems during yesterday’s residency. Cynthia Manley, content strategist , shared a wealth of on-target tips from the audience and during her excellent Twitter presentation. She’s smart, insightful, and concise. 

And organized. Cynthia put together an amazing Storify that summarizes the day with interesting photos, collected tweets, and great narrative. It’s better than all the notes I took. Take a look for some excellent power tips for building community as well as social media. (That’s a wrap at 176 words!)

It’s social media week at #MayoClinic

I’m thrilled to be in Rochester, Minn., attending social media week at Mayo Clinic. It’s my third year attending the week and I always enjoy learning a ton and reconnecting with some good friends I’ve developed as a member of the Social Media Health Network.

Tomorrow Mayo hosts a one-day social media residency that provides an immersion in everything from legal issues to strategy to Twitter to video to blogging. I’ll present a session on Facebook and play a role as chief resident, mentoring a handful of social media residents. I always learn a lot from these students. 

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Mayo partners with Ragan Communications to host the 6th Annual Health Care Social Media Summit.

And Thursday afternoon and evening we hold an annual meeting for members of the Social Media Health Network. I’m honored to present to that group “Tactics and Tools to Begin, Build and Sustain Online Patient Communities.”

If you’re not a member of the Social Media Health Network, I recommend it to you. Here is some excellent information on the costs and benefits. One thing you can do right now is start following the network’s Twitter account. Great stuff! 

After evaluating 800 U.S. hospitals, NurseJournal earlier this month named Mayo Clinic the most social media-friendly hospital in the U.S.

It’s a well-deserved recognition. Lee Aase, the director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, has been championing social media for several years and has been a key voice helping hospitals adopt best practices.

I’m so grateful for the work Lee has done. Social media, at its best, connects healthcare with patients and their families in ways that simply weren’t possible just five years ago. We’re all better off for it. 

Why are Hospitals Slow to Develop Online Patient Support Communities?

Jennings Principal Dan Dunlop, has written an insightful article that addresses the question: Why are hospitals slow to develop online patient support communities?

In Dan’s article, Paul Speyser of CareHubs identifies three key factors:

  • CEOs and other healthcare executives are already stretched thin by changes in the healthcare industry and therefore reluctant to add any new initiatives
  • Fears that these communities would be prohibitively expensive.
  • Concern and misunderstanding surrounding privacy and HIPAA.

Inspite of these concerns, Dan outlines some compelling benefits to participating in online patient support communities. 

It’s a good read.

The article, titled The Connected Patient: Information Currency in Online Communities, was published in eHealth Strategy and Trends. You can download a PDF of the article here.

photo credit Flickr: Redbraz