The Mayo Clinic Became the Gold Standard for Social Media in Healthcare | Social Media Today
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Posted by: Joan Justice

The Big Brand Theory: How the Mayo Clinic Became the Gold Standard for Social Media in Healthcare

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The Mayo Clinic is the gold standard for the use of social media by healthcare organizations. The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media [MCCSM]--yes, they have a whole center dedicated to social media--facilitates the use of social media throughout the Mayo Clinic and also works to help other hospitals, professionals and patients use social media to promote health education, health literacy and healthcare delivery worldwide.

The Mayo Clinic has the most popular medical provider channel on YouTube and more than 450,000 “followers” on Twitter. They also an active Facebook page with over 300,000 connections. A pioneer in blogging, Mayo has a News BlogPodcast Blog and Sharing Mayo Clinic, a blog that enables patients and employees to tell stories about their Mayo Clinic experience.

ImageLee Aase is the Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. Lee has a background in politics and media relations and has led the Mayo Clinic into the forefront in healthcare social media. 

When asked what his approach to social media marketing was, Lee answered that healthcare consumers want and need in-depth information and it is his job and the Mayo Clinic’s job to offer them that information. “The main idea is to understand that there is a thirst for information out there," said Lee. “When people get sick, they want information and they want it right away." 

I then asked Lee what novel or interesting ideas he had tried out at Mayo Clinic. Lee started by telling me about the Social Media Network that Mayo created of 140 organizations and their employees to whom it provides social media tools, resources and guidance in the use of social media in healthcare. Individuals can join also – it’s free and easy to do – and you can obtain access to resources, webinars and all sorts of information about social media and its uses. 

The MCCSM also offers a Social Media Residency – an extensive training program in the use of social media.  Participants can either sign up for an in-person course or an online option. And there is a Social Media Week at the Clinic with activities starting with Social Media Residency and ending with the member meeting for the Social Media Health Network. 

ImageThey also offer a book, Bringing the Social Revolution to HealthCare, offer numerous webinars and have a Social Media Week every year, starting with a Social Media Residency course, continuing with a summit conference of lectures and discussion groups and ending with a Network meeting for members. They have an outside advisory board of key members who are active in healthcare social media and Lee lectures nationally and internationally on the use of social media in healthcare.

One of Mayo Clinic’s key physicians and the Chair of Dental Specialties is Dr. Sreenivas Koka. Dr. Koka wanted to improve the quality of experience of patients coming to him for consultation. He had found that many patients were coming to him without clear understanding of questions they would be asked and several were also apprehensive about Dr. Koka’s understanding of English, as his name indicated foreign ethnicity. 

Dr. Koka decided to make a video, introducing himself, putting his patients at ease, explaining what would be expected of them and the kinds of questions they could expect during the visit. He asks patients to think about their symptoms and any questions they have before they come to see him. As Dr. Koka grew up in London and has a British accent, any questions about his speaking and understanding English are allayed. 

Lee explained that the Mayo Clinic is now conducting a study on how this video really helps patients. Some patients are being sent the video ahead of time, and some are not. “Dr. Koka knows right away who has seen the video and who has not,” Lee said. “The hypothesis is that this video will greatly reduce anxiety, increase visit efficiency and help overall patient satisfaction.”

When asked what was the biggest lesson learned at Mayo, Lee answered, “The biggest lesson is that there is really no substitute for valuable content. Patients want in-depth great content. Interaction is important, but really, you need great content.”

Lee’s takeaway advice to other healthcare social media managers out is to the point. “Just do it! You have to get hands-on experience and do a great job. Think big, start small and act fast. Do all that you can to prove yourself. Do a great job and then show what you have done. Prove yourself and you will get the support you need.”

All photos:


The Big Brand Theory is a weekly, exclusive column for Social Media Today that explores the social media strategies of big brands, both B2B and B2C. Look for the next installment next Monday morning. 


Authored by:

Joan Justice

Joan Justice is Director of Special Projects at the Patient Empowerment Network, a global non-for-profit organization dedicated to fortifying the health care consumer with the knowledge and tools to feel more confident playing a central role in decisions that affect their health.  Joan has a background in nursing and domestic and international healthcare marketing.  Previously, she was the ...

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May 20, 2013

Aaron Mackel says:

Great read. The Mayo Clinic is definitely doing things the right way because they seem to come up everywhere online.

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