In this interview, EP Lab Digest talks with Farris K. Timimi, MD, Medical Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN), and Lee Aase, Director of the MCSMN and Communications Director of Mayo Clinic’s Social and Digital Innovation (SDI) Team, about social media strategies in health care.
Tell us about your medical background. How did you become involved with the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN)?
I am a cardiologist specializing in heart failure, and through that work have had an interest in patient involvement, such as with creation of our Patient and Family Advisory Committees. On major initiatives and in our basic structure, Mayo Clinic uses an physician/administrator model of shared leadership, with the administrator managing day-to-day operations and the physician leader helping to ensure medical relevance.
When the Mayo Clinic created what is now MCSMN, I was very interested in taking on the role of Medical Director.
What is the purpose of the MCSMN? When and why was it formed?
In 2011, Mayo Clinic created our Center for Social Media, which is now the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network, to help bring the social media revolution to health care. Our first goal was to ensure that Mayo Clinic staff and stakeholders had the guidelines, training, and resources to apply social media tools in support of clinical practice, education, and research. We also saw an opportunity to share globally what we were developing with colleagues, as well as learn alongside them as we navigated issues and concerns with these new technologies.
We see MCSMN as a catalyst to reduce the activation energy required to apply social media in health care organizations. By using our resources, colleagues can advance in their knowledge and capabilities more quickly than they would on their own.
Our association with Mayo Clinic also helps members gain internal buy-in; with these resources, they will be building on an approach and philosophy that has been shown to be safe and effective.
What is the role of social media in healthcare today? Additionally, what is the role of social media in healthcare education, research, and practice?
Social media has had a transformative impact on society as a whole, and health care is no exception. Through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and others, patients and caregivers can share their experiences as well as look for support and answers. They are able to overcome barriers of space and time to connect with others like them, even if they have a rare condition that is not shared by anyone in their immediate geographical area.
The patients were there first, but now medical professionals and organizations are seeing opportunities to listen, serve, and educate using these tools.
Tell us about the Social for Healthcare Certificate from the Mayo Clinic and Hootsuite. How did this collaboration come about? What does this training program help achieve?
The Social for Healthcare Certificate from Mayo Clinic and Hootsuite (https://mayocl.in/2btyyIt) provides focused and trustworthy training for busy professionals who want to safely and effectively learn to use social media. We developed this course with Hootsuite because we wanted to keep it up to date, reflecting on the latest changes in social platforms. Hootsuite markets to its clients, while we offer it to MCSMN members.
Because of its modular design and online delivery, participants can choose the elements they find most valuable and that fit their busy schedule, and it’s available on-demand, 24/7.
This course is our front-line training for any Mayo staff interested in using social media for professional purposes.
Physicians obviously could figure out elements of using social media on their own through trial and error, but our goal is to condense what they need to know into brief modules that they can apply to create their own professional presence, and to avoid missteps they otherwise might make.
What is the Social Media Residency? How long is the program, and what topics are covered?
Social Media Residency (https://mayocl.in/2dt4ABT) is a one-day program for those interested in developing a social media strategy aligned with their professional or organizational priorities. Some participants are social media managers for hospitals and are developing overall organizational strategies, while others are clinicians or scientists interested in narrower applications. Our online training provides the foundation, and then in Social Media Residency, we go beyond those basics and dig into strategy, providing guidelines for plan development.
In addition, what can you tell us about the Social Media Fellows Program?
The Social Media Fellows program (https://mayocl.in/2RTmPpg) is for those who have gone through Social Media Residency, and want guidance in developing and implementing their social media strategic plans. It’s also a way for them to give back by sharing their experiences with the Network.
How many people have completed the Social for Healthcare Certificate, Social Media Residency, and Social Media Fellows Program thus far? Who is best suited to participate in these programs?
We’ve had more than 2,000 participants in the Social for Healthcare Certificate, and more than 700 in Social Media Residency. The Fellows program is much smaller, as it involves developing a strategic plan and submitting for review.
The Social for Healthcare Certificate is appropriate for anyone in health care, whether in a clinical or research role or in administration, marketing, and communications. It helps those who aren’t familiar with social media to get up-to-speed quickly, and for younger staff who have personal experience in social media, it introduces important elements of professionalism that are necessary in the health care context.
Social Media Residency is mainly for those who are advocates for social media and who are interested in promoting strategic use of these platforms.
Which programs are available online or onsite? What costs are involved with these opportunities?
As mentioned earlier, the Social for Healthcare Certificate is our online, on-demand program. While the retail price for the course is $250, we include it in both Premium Individual and Organizational memberships.
Registration for Social Media Residency is $795, and includes the Social for Healthcare Certificate. Organization members save 25 percent, and also may have the opportunity to host Social Media Residency, which can enable broader participation by their staff.
What the benefits of MCSMN membership? What other opportunities are available?
In addition to the Social for Healthcare Certificate, premium members of MCSMN have access to a members-only discussion board where they can safely and confidentially get feedback and answers from fellow members. They also have access to our monthly webinars (regularly $95 each) and save 25 percent on any of our in-person events, including our Annual Conference and Social Media Residency.
In addition to Premium Individual membership, we also offer Organization membership at an affordable flat rate, which gives full premium membership to anyone on the organization’s email domain (e.g., mayo.edu).
Tell us more about the upcoming annual conference in November.
Our Annual Conference will take place from November 14-15 in Jacksonville, Florida, with four compelling keynotes and three tracks of case studies and opportunities for networking and expert consultations. We’re also offering Social Media Residency on our Mayo Clinic campus in Jacksonville on November 13, with special bundled registration available.
Who is involved with Mayo Clinic’s Social and Digital Innovation (SDI) Team?
Our Social and Digital Innovation Team is led by my administrative partner, Lee Aase, and includes representatives on our campuses in Florida and Arizona as well as several members in Minnesota. The SDI team maintains Mayo Clinic’s overall social media presence and also consults with Mayo stakeholders interested in professional or specialty accounts. It also provides the foundation for what we offer through MCSMN. (Editor's Note: See interview with Lee Aase in sidebar.)
Why is important for healthcare professionals to engage on social media? Also, what brief tips do you have for healthcare professionals about how to build a digital identity?
Health care professionals at least need to understand the importance of their online reputation, and the role social media presence can play in shaping what people find when they Google your name. Doctors should all claim and complete their profiles on Doximity, and should also consider how presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social networks can affect search results.
Beyond that, they should explore how they can use these tools to accomplish their life’s work. These are powerful tools for communication that enable us to have a much bigger impact than we otherwise would.
At the same time, digital tools used incorrectly can do more damage than analog communications. But just as with other tools, with proper guidelines and training, these can do immense good.
What main social media platforms are doctors currently using?
Twitter and LinkedIn are probably the most important participatory platforms for physicians.
Using Twitter hashtags related to diseases or scientific meetings enables physicians to participate in niche conversations that interest them, highlight their expertise, and learn more about patients’ experiences.
LinkedIn provides a platform for longer-form writing and sharing in a more professionally-oriented environment.
Presence on both of these can strongly influence online search results for the physician’s name, pushing some of the unreliable rating and review sites down the page.
Why should organizations and individuals utilize the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network?
The recent PBS documentary by Ken Burns, The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science (https://to.pbs.org/2P3yKCk), begins with an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Through the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network, we help our members go both farther and faster. By using our guidelines, templates, and training materials, our members can jumpstart their social media involvement with trusted resources. And by collaborating with like-minded colleagues from around the globe, they can get new ideas and perspectives to help shape their own initiatives.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The Mayo Clinic Social Media Network is a modern-day manifestation of our founders’ philosophy and practice. Drs. Will and Charlie Mayo recognized that to provide the best care to every patient, they needed to travel and learn from others, and bring that knowledge back to their rural Minnesota practice. Dr. Will visited 25 countries on five continents at a time when travel was arduous.
They also welcomed physicians to visit and observe them in surgery, and in the period from 1908 to 1918 alone, nearly 3,400 physicians came to Rochester to observe them and become part of what became known as The Surgeons Club.
We see the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network as the health care social media version of what the Mayo brothers did in surgery, and we’re glad that we can connect with colleagues both face-to-face in our in-person events, and on a continuing basis through the MCSMN community.
I would invite anyone who is interested in these resources to contact my administrative partner, Lee Aase. We’d be glad to be of service.
For more information, follow along on Twitter:
Interview with Lee Aase, Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) and Communications Director of the Mayo Clinic’s Social and Digital Innovation (SDI) Team
Tell us about your background, and how the MCSMN came about.
My background is in media relations, and I was the manager of Mayo Clinic’s media relations team when we began dabbling in “new” media with podcasting in 2005. We were early adopters of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube when they started becoming available, because we saw them as ways to directly reach patients instead of only indirectly through traditional media.
The MCSMN arose as our colleagues at other hospitals saw our leadership in adopting these new platforms, and were interested in learning from us how to navigate this space. We developed tools and training for our Mayo staff, and through MCSMN, we make them available to our colleagues everywhere.
What can you tell us about the Mayo Clinic Social and Digital Innovation (SDI) Team?
Our team represents Mayo Clinic as a whole, with team members on our three campuses in Rochester, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Florida, and Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona. We maintain Mayo Clinic’s enterprise-level accounts on the major social platforms ( Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube) as well as our community and blogging platform. We also consult with stakeholders interested in specialty-focused social accounts and provide training for them, as well as a central management platform for governance of the accounts.
How can social media help promote health and improve health care?
Social media provides platforms for listening to both patients and consumers as well as physicians and scientists to share knowledge and the latest research. They are experts in the science of various diseases and conditions, and the patients are experts in the day-to-day challenges of coping with those health issues. For example, I have celiac disease and can benefit from videos from Dr. Joseph Murray (https://bit.ly/2NEVZ0R), our leading expert on the science of celiac disease. Through social media, I can connect with fellow patients to get recommendations on restaurants with gluten-free menus when I’m traveling. We like to say that patients are experts by experience, and we’ve collaborated with Inspire.com on a series of blog posts (https://mayocl.in/2RTMb6n) featuring those patient insights.
Why should health care professionals and organizations engage on social media?
People of all ages are increasingly engaging in social media — particularly when they’re looking for information or support when facing a health concern. If health care professionals aren’t engaged, others who are spreading unscientific remedies or positions, such as the anti-vaccine advocates, will be unchallenged in the online space.
It’s also important from a reputation management perspective; by having social media presence, providers and organizations are equipped to share their perspectives and have a vehicle for telling their side of the story.
How do you see the use or the role of social media evolving?
I think the opportunity to engage in conversation online is an increasing expectation, and that organizations will be finding ways to hold those conversations not only on broader social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but on their own digital properties as well.
What are some of your tips to health care organizations for developing a social media strategy?
Social media strategy needs to be an element of business strategy. With few exceptions, every communications or marketing initiative should have a social media component. The first step to social media strategy is developing an understanding of the nature of the social media platforms, the audiences they attract, and their core capabilities. Then, map those to what you are trying to accomplish, whether it relates to building a clinical practice, improving communications efficiency, promoting clinical trials and other research, or recruiting a top-tier workforce.
Which social media platforms have you found to be most beneficial or effective for doctors to use? What do you consider to be a “balanced social media diet” in 2018?
We recommend that physicians use social media to help with their online reputation management, because these accounts tend to show up high in search results. Our top recommendations include claiming and completing your account on Doximity (www.doximity.com), which powers the U.S. News & World Report search engine, as well as creating accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter. Filming and uploading informational videos to YouTube can also introduce you to prospective patients and begin to build empathy.
Any final thoughts?
Don’t miss the Social for Healthcare Certificate from Mayo Clinic and Hootsuite (https://mayocl.in/2btyyIt), which we created to provide on-demand basic training in social media for health care professionals. It’s what we use as front-line training for our busy Mayo Clinic staff, so they can choose modules that are most helpful to them. For example, a doctor who wants to create a Twitter account can go through that module in 20-30 minutes and feel confident in setting up a professional account, knowing how Twitter works in the health care context.
This course is available to any of our premium individual Mayo Clinic Social Media Network members, and for a flat fee, we can make this same training available to anyone in an organization. We’re excited that now we can say any employee of our organization can have access to the same social media training that our Mayo Clinic staff depend upon.
For those who want to dig deeper and take a leadership role in social media in their organization, please check out our Social Media Residency (https://mayocl.in/2dt4ABT), a one-day course offered a few times each year, as well as our Annual Conference (https://mayocl.in/2PWq1zF) taking place November 14-15 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Follow Lee Aase on Twitter at @LeeAase