free-ranging conversation with lee aase, mayo clinic social media manager

March 9, 2010

in free-ranging conversations (interviews with wellness innovators),wellness

mayo clinic uses social media to build their brand, connect with current and future patients, and educate people about their health. but they go beyond this, helping to educate others about how to use social media for their own purposes. all of this is largely due to lee aase, the social media manager for mayo, who’s invited non-mayo employees to join mayo webinars to learn more about twitter and started smug, social media university, global.

lee works separately from the mayo team that supports companies and their workplace wellness communications. i chatted with him about what he’s learned about social media and its impact on health that companies can benefit from knowing. i’m hoping to chat with the team associated with workplace wellness, so watch this space!

you’ve obviously been using social media to build mayo’s brand and competitiveness.

our philosophy is we’re giving away information that’s helpful to others. over time, it’ll make people more likely to use mayo or refer their friends. using social media—this is the way word of mouth happens in the 21st century.

you’ve also devoted a lot of time to sharing what you’ve learned so we all benefit. what are the critical lessons?

the biggest mistake is studying it to death and never implementing anything. another is to throw a ton of resources at it right away.

take a smart first step so it’s unlikely you’ll have to ask for that much forgiveness, and pick as low-cost an effort as you can so you can prove the value. there will be some of these tools that don’t get a huge following, but if it doesn’t cost a lot and it serves people…

what have your efforts taught you about social media’s contribution to health?

we use videos, podcasts, blogs, and facebook. they let people share experiences, support, and encouragement. they also let them become more informed and more involved in their condition management. for example, one of our patients came to mayo clinic after his mother had interacted on a yahoo health group where her discussions with others led her to seek out a second opinion. he had been diagnosed with long QT syndrome, a potentially fatal heart rhythm abnormality, and may be the youngest patient to have received a pacemaker-defibrillator. his mom not only became suspicious of the diagnosis after interacting with this long QT syndrome community, but also received advice on where she and her husband might get a second opinion for their son. a community for a relatively rare condition wouldn’t be possible without online platforms like this. companies can form support groups to provide this same type of network to their employees, using these tools to serve as continuity for what they’re already doing.

those are instances in which being involved in a group ultimately led to a change in care. do you see that a lot?

we’re seeing social media as a way to improve care. we’re in the process of building some closed patient-support groups on facebook that will have a moderator. we want to research different ways of providing support groups—moderated, unmoderated—to see what affects behavior, like medication compliance, for example. we’re in the early stages of exploring this, and look forward to sharing what we learn to help patients and health care providers everywhere.

and, of course, i must ask, do you use social media internally to support mayo employees and their families’ health and well-being?

we’ve been experimenting with social tools internally as well, but more in relation to how we work together and share information as colleagues, not so much specifically aimed at health and wellness. still, some of the applications have related to our mayo clinic dan abraham healthy living center, where social tools have provided support for exercise and nutrition programs. i really believe we’ll be implementing social media enterprise-wide in a significant way now that we have the proof of concept from what we’ve done externally.

for more on mayo’s use of social media, in general, read this interview with guy kawasaki. this blog post by erin turner, one of mayo’s patients, tells how blogs, twitter, and a story in usa today combined to help her find treatment for a painful condition that had bothered her for five years.

you can follow lee on twitter and join social media university, global (smug). if you have a question you’d like to ask lee, leave it in the comments.

the free-ranging conversation series explores workplace wellness from a number of angles. read more free-ranging interviews here.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Shakil October 21, 2015 at 6:51 pm

I feel hesitant to ask qsoituens at my routine checkups. I have had signifiant health concerns and still feel apprehensive to ask about continual symptoms that I have, because I feel they are often dismissed and not taken seriously. I still feel better when my physician makes that effort to connect and take me seriously as I am not a complainer but have legitimate concerns. In talking with many friends and colleagues, I find this to be a continual experience for many people. What guidance is out there to address the issue in communicating with doctors and specialists in the most direct and comprehensive way to not only get needs met but to help the patient be more assertive in both consultation and routine checkups. This would eliminate a lot of anxiety for people and therefore impact overall health and wellness.


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