Lee Aase and the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network – Harlow on Healthcare

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Lee Aase is the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. In that role, he is responsible for building and maintaining the Mayo Clinic’s leadership in the use of social media to reach and serve its various constituencies. He is also responsible for building on the Mayo tradition, which goes back to the Mayo brothers’ history of going out into the world to learn and to teach, in creating the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network, which provides training, resources and community for other health care organizations. As Lee observes, “It’s the right thing to do.”

I caught up with Lee recently, not long before the upcoming MCSMN annual meeting. I’ll be one of the keynote speakers at the event; see my preview post at the link.

Listen to our 30-minute conversation on HealthcareNOW Radio, weekdays at 8:30 am, 4:30 pm and 12:30 am ET – until the next Harlow on Healthcare interview goes live. You can then find this interview on SoundCloud or your favorite podcast app (iTunes, Stitcher). 

A health care social media pioneer, Lee has been instrumental in sharing Mayo clinical expertise from Rochester, Minnesota, population 100,000, out across the world. He sees the value to the Mayo mission – and brand – of putting Mayo experts on the world stage using video and other media. Lee observes that over time the organic reach of content on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter has diminished, necessitating the use of new types of content and new platforms – such as owned, branded, social communities. As he puts it, posting content exclusively on others’ platforms is a form of “sharecropping.” Any content creator should understand the value of establishing one or more owned sites, and the value of using other social platforms to link back to owned media (blogs, websites, private communities).

Not every organization has the resources or the reach to do this successfully, but Mayo Clinic has built its own social media community – Mayo Clinic Connect – and organizations of any size can draw lessons from the way in which this community has been operationalized and managed. This community — 50,000 members and growing – is built around 45 topical groups. The network started with about half as many, but groups have subdivided into more focused groups as the original groups grew larger. There are community discussion guidelines, there are community moderators employed by Mayo Clinic, and there are patient “mentors,” deputized to welcome new participants and help make connections. The goal is to foster discussion, rather than provide definitive answers from clinical experts. Such answers tend to end conversations, and while getting information in the hands of community members is a goal of the community, another important goal is the fostering of community by continuing conversations which tend to end conversations. Thus, specific responses to questions may be posted, and may refer to offline conversations with clinicians, but are usually not posted by Mayo clinicians.

The community generates its own demand and outlines for original content posted by Mayo. For example, a live video Q & A session with a Mayo physician may be broadcast on Facebook live, with questions that have come up within the community. The archived video can then be shared back with the community.

As Lee puts it, “This isn’t Coke vs. Pepsi. We’re here to serve patients, to help patients help themselves.”

We also delved into other ways in which social media can help health care organizations engage in positive patient and staff community building. I invite you to listen to the entire conversation.

I spoke with Lee to kick off the new incarnation of my series of interviews with healthcare innovation leaders – Harlow on Healthcare, on HealthcareNOW Radio. You can catch me live weekdays at 8:30 am, 4:30 pm and 12:30 am. As each new interview goes live, the last one will join the archive, available via SoundCloud or your favorite podcast app (iTunes, Stitcher). Your comments are welcome here. Join the conversation on Twitter at #HarlowonHC.

David Harlow

The Harlow Group LLC

Health Care Law and Consulting

You should follow me on Twitter: @healthblawg



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