Mayo Clinic Health Care Social Media Summit takes a new direction

I’m in Rochester Minnesota in June this year — rather than the annual October pilgrimage I’ve been making the past few years. 

The Mayo Clinic Health Care Social Media Summit is an all-new format built around sharing expertise, solving problems, and building community. Instead of the typical day-and-a-half conference in the past that showcased hour-long presenters in different tracks, Mayo Clinic has created a day-long Summit with case studies in the morning and afternoon small-group exchanges, interaction with social media experts, and a strategic planning approach that will help health care marketers walk away with a practical, problem-solving solutions. 

Special Needs and Challenges of Developing for Community Management

The Summit will be preceded by a one-day Social Media Residency. I’m fortunate enough to serve as a Chief Resident for the residency once again and also to be part of a case study panel at the Summit. Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, Colleen Young, and I will tackle Special Needs and Challenges of Developing for Community Management. Meredith Gould will moderate. 

I have contracted with Mayo Clinic to act as community director for the Social Media Health Network, Mayo’s professional community for health care marketing professionals with an interest in social and digital networking.  

We are completely reworking the SMHN website

First big task: Completely rework the website to support vibrant community activity. Colleen, Meredith and I have been working on the project for a few months now, and in spite of a number of hurdles, we’re making strong progress. Our panel will discuss some of those challenges and how we’ve worked as a team to overcome them. 

Can’t wait to meet new members of our community! 


With #MayoClinic’s help, Google joins the battle to provide accurate health information on the web

I was excited to read this week that Google has joined the battle to provide accurate health information on the web – and that they’ve enlisted the doctors at Mayo Clinic to help.

I’m a big fan of Mayo Clinic. With the help of Lee Aase, Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, Mayo has pioneered social media for health care.

I first became aware of Lee and Mayo’s work about four years ago, and I soon joined the Social Media Health Network (SMHN), a member organization that provides education, training, and peer-to-peer connections.

Mayo Clinic’s External Advisory Board

Our relationship deepened as I spoke at a couple of conferences and served as an instructor and chief resident at Mayo’s Social Media Residency – a one-day intensive training in social media. In January Lee asked me to serve on the External Advisory Board for the SMHN, which I consider a real honor. Some of the trailblazing thought leaders in health care social media are part of that board, and I love associating with them.

I’ve written before about my concerns about the enormous amount of inaccurate health information on the web. One reason I champion online patient communities is because they provide the perfect platform for sharing accurate, useful, peer-reviewed health information. 

Here’s an example of how Google is treating a search for pinkeye.  

PinkEyeHence my excitement about Google’s announcement, which includes the following points:

  • We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is – whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more.
  • For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators.
  • Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor.
  • We worked with a team of medical doctors to carefully compile, curate, and review this information.
  • All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the web, and the information has been checked by medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.

So thank you, Google, and thank you, Mayo Clinic, for taking another important step to improve health literacy on the web.


If you’re a social media or digital marketing pro with interesting case studies or new ideas, please consider submitting a speaker’s proposal for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit scheduled for June 16-17 in Rochester, Minn. 

Mayo is also accepting proposals from providers, patients, or caregivers who have developed effective tactics for using digital tools to work collaboratively to deliver — and receive — diagnosis and treatment.

Submit your proposal by March 9. 

Online community provides essential emotional support during patient clinical trial

The Mayo Clinic Division of Brain Rehabilitation was faced with a dilemma.

Physicians had developed an outstanding treatment protocol for traumatic brain injury (TBI) with excellent results. But many older patients with TBI live in rural areas and are unable to travel to a large medical center for treatment.

How could Mayo Clinic bring the clinical care and emotional support patients needed to their local communities?

The solution: A clinical trial that connects patients, their families and providers with specialized brain rehabilitation providers through the innovative application of an online patient community. 

Dr. Allen Brown presented an overview of the trial at last month’s Social Media Health Network annual meeting in Rochester, Minn.

How this clinical trial works

  • The trial includes TBI patients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.
  • Patients receive care in their local communities.
  • Patients designate family members or significant others to be part of the community.
  • Providers join in.
  • All participants are connected to Mayo Clinic and each other through the CareHubs online patient community software.

The CareHubs software becomes a private, secure, personal care hub for emotional and clinical support. “One of the most frequent patient requests is, ‘I wish I could talk to someone else who has this,’” explained Dr. Brown.

The secure site includes:

  • Customized introductory videos for providers and for the patient and family.
  • Question and answer section featuring specialists who answer questions, suggest treatment options, and direct patients and providers to resources.
  • Conversation area where patients and their families can share experiences with one another and provide emotional support.
  • A platform for online events, education, and presentations.
  • Extensive user-level analytics.

When the trial ends, Dr. Brown hopes the intervention will result in:

  • Better participation outcomes.
  • More integration in community.
  • Greater satisfaction with care.
  • Local providers reporting that patients are more capable because they have skills they didn’t have before.

The trial has just begun, and results won’t be tabulated for some time, but this unusual use for online community software holds great promise for patient care. (Download a PDF summary of the clinical trial.) 

Thinking image designed by Jens Tärning from the Noun Project

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. 

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!)