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Mayo accelerates its online presence

Mayo Clinic last week announced the launch of what officials there are calling its "culture blog," Sharing Mayo Clinic which provides an online site for patients and employees to share their stories about what makes Mayo Clinic unique. This WordpressMU delivered blog is clearly focusing on uplifting stories of individual patient and employee experiences. While initially interesting, I started to poke around since I wasn't sure how this fit into their overall mission or why they'd want to have a showcase for patient and employee stories.

According to Mayo's about page positioning this new blog, Each year over 500,000 unique patients from every U.S. state and nearly 150 countries come to Mayo Clinic for diagnosis and treatment. These patients and their families and friends, and 50,000 employees and students are part of a global Mayo Clinic community.

The goal for the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog is to provide a virtual place for this community to connect and share its experiences. It’s the online companion to the new newsletter for patients, also called Sharing Mayo Clinic, and is a hub that links to Mayo Clinic’s pages on other social networking sites, such as Facebook and YouTube.

Unless you're a constant observer of Mayo Clinic, you may be as surprised as I was to learn how truly significant and holistic the Mayo online presence has become, and how its online initiatives actually spring forth from the innovation DNA of the Mayo Clinic. This premier health-care organization is leveraging social tools to extend its reach and to ensure it is at the points online where people are increasingly focusing their attention: the Internet and web with a primary focus on social media applications.

Last week, I talked briefly with Lee Aase, Mayo Clinic's manager of social media and syndication. When I expressed my surprise at how dramatically different its online presence is compared to what I've seen in the past, Aase pointed out that innovation is at the heart of Mayo itself, and leveraging these social media technologies in an innovative way makes perfect sense and were easily accepted within the Mayo culture.

Lee Aase
Lee Aase

To illustrate that point, he talked about how Dr. Will and Charlie Mayo invented the group practice of medicine and they, along with the Franciscan Sisters, were able to figure out how to prevent surgical infections through completely new and aseptic surgery techniques, so instead of people going to the hospital to die, they lived to tell about their experience ... and did. (For more Mayo history, see this page).

Today we expect to live (or at least to know specifics about our odds of survival before surgery) and the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog is really a systemic way for 21st century stories to be told using social media and therefore to be accessible to people worldwide.

Sharing Mayo Clinic builds on Mayo Clinic's existing social media initiatives:

Mayo Clinic YouTube Channel The Mayo Clinic Channel has more than 250 videos for consumers to watch and share. They include patient stories, information about Mayo services and programs, background on Mayo Clinic's history and people, and details about Mayo's latest research and treatment advances. Through the "Share Your Mayo Clinic Story" campaign, patients are encouraged to post videos about their personal experiences with Mayo Clinic on YouTube. Patients who do not have the technical expertise or equipment to do this may have their stories recorded during their visit to Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic Facebook page (Type Mayo Clinic Facebook in any search engine.) On this social networking site, patients can tell their Mayo Clinic story, watch videos about Mayo's latest news and research, become a Facebook "fan" of Mayo, and share it all with their friends. They also can read and discuss what others say about their experiences at Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic podcast blog Dozens of Mayo podcasts are available on this site. Mayo's podcasts include extended conversations and news stories on many diseases and conditions, emphasizing conditions that Mayo Clinic experts treat and research. Consumers can search by topic, post comments and subscribe to have new episodes of a particular podcast delivered automatically.

Mayo Clinic news blog In this blog, journalists and consumers can see and hear video and audio excerpts featuring Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers providing context for stories about their research and other health and medical news. They also can join discussions with other readers through the blog comments.

MayoClinic.com consumer blogs and podcasts MayoClinic.com offers consumer blogs on topics such as stress, smoking cessation, pregnancy, nutrition, depression, diabetes and more. MayoClinic.com podcasts are available in portable audio files that contain consumer-friendly information from a Mayo Clinic expert. Consumers can sign up for RSS feeds for new blog posts and podcast topics, as well as several other content features from MayoClinic.com.

I must admit that my attention on Mayo hasn't been too high as of late. In the mid-1990s, while at Apple in the prepress and publishing space, Mayo remained a strong supporter and key customer of the company, and I spent a fair amount of time in Rochester. Pleased that Steve Jobs had returned and new energy was being infused in to the company (e.g., the new iMac), Mayo continued to deploy Macs where it made sense (i.e., printing and publishing) as well as within the biomedical computing and research areas.

While calling on this organization and interacting with folks like Dr. Bijoy Khanderia, head of cardiology and chair of the I.T. Steering Committee at the time, I was always struck by: the quality of their vision; hyperfocus on the patient; long history of quality health care and positive patient outcomes; solid and atypically nice people with big-city smarts and small-town values; good content; and a work ethic that was pervasive throughout the organization and -- combined with all those other factors -- are obviously the foundation of their success. That said, it was also clear that this was a conservative organization that moved somewhat slowly on pushing the envelope, and my reaction to most of their online publishing in the past was that everything was basically an online brochure with well-scrubbed content.

No more. They're in the game and on the net in a big way.

It's delightful to see Mayo opening up in this way, and I'll be interested to see where their online engagement leads them and how it might mold, shape and influence the course of their patient and employee interactions in the future. I presume the goal of any effort officials put forth is to enhance, extend and improve the health and well-being of people in the world. To that end, reading, hearing and seeing the stories of people whose lives have been saved, made better and changed will be a powerful way to move that agenda forward.

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