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Mayo Clinic names 17 members to social media advisory board

A blogging pediatrician, a Second Life librarian and an Australian med student and are among the people who will help round out the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media advisory board.

The center named 17 members Wednesday to its advisory board, which will help draft industry guidelines and best practices for using social media to improve health care.

The announcement brings the number of board members to 30, which is five more than the center initially planned to appoint. Mayo public relations manager and social media guru Lee Aase said they made a late decision to name additional members because of the quality of candidates it received through its “crowdsourced” recruiting effort.

 “Each of them has a perspective that will be helpful to us in looking at what are the kinds of initiatives that would be most valuable and most helpful. They’ll be a great source of ideas and also a sounding board as we have initiatives that we want to bring forward,” Aase said.

Mayo launched the social media center last summer with the goal of helping the health care community improve care through the use of social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It announced the first dozen members of the advisory board in September and received some criticism for not including any physicians. The center delivered on a promise to include docs in the next round of appointments, naming seven MDs to the board this week.

A complete list and biographies of the advisory board members was posted on the center’s blog Wednesday morning. They include:

  • Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a practicing pediatrician, blogger, and freelance writer who writes the Seattle Mama Doc for Seattle Children’s Hospital.
  • Patricia F. Anderson, an emerging technologies librarian at the University of Michigan’s Taubman Health Sciences Library and co-founder of a health care education group in the Second Life virtual world
  • Hugh Stephens, a fourth-year medical student at Australia’s Monash University and director of an IT consulting business who co-authored the first Australian social media guidelines for medical professionals

Aase said the “crowdsourcing” idea came to him about a week before they announced the first round of advisors. What does it mean? In this case, it was an effort to broaden the pool of candidates by aggressively promoting the opportunity through social media and allowing anyone to submit a nomination online for themselves or somebody else. They also encouraged people to apply through social media, with blog posts or YouTube videos.

The result: 120 applications. They included YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, and lots of blog posts. Staff managed to lower the field to a few dozen and then turned the applications over to the dozen existing board members for feedback and suggestions. Aase tweeted last year about how hard it was going to be to narrow it to 12 candidates, and ultimately the task proved too difficult.

The board will hold regular in-person and online discussions to sort through complicated social media issues that are increasingly on the minds of hospital officials, practitioners and patients alike. When it comes to social media use, Mayo Clinic has been at the forefront, embracing blogs, Twitter, YouTube and other channels. However, Aase notes that there are varying levels of comfort and concern, both in and outside of Mayo.

Major unresolved questions linger around topics like online patient-provider relationships. “For instance, I think most people would generally say that if you’re not really a friend with someone in real life, like you didn’t go to high school with them, that as a medical provider you shouldn’t be friends on Facebook,” said Aase. “Yet, it does create some awkward situations sometimes when maybe a family in the hospital meets their nurse and send a friend request or something. Helping provide some standards for the health care industry that will help providers in that position be able to point to something; that it isn’t just that they’re being anti-social or not friendly, but that this is industry standard.”

Aase said the Center for Social Media sees itself as a facilitator of these types of conversations. It plans to support hospitals and practitioners through training, conferences and producing resources such as manuals, white papers and guidelines.

“Right now we have a lot of practices. We don’t know that they’re best yet, we just know that they’re practices,” Aase said. “I think to some extent it’s hard to know what we don’t know yet, because it’s such a rapidly growing field.”

One thing Aase is confident about: “These tools are practice-changing and life-changing, and they’re not going away.”

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Comments (2)

Thanks for this great information! 17 new members seems like a lot, but if they are qualified and can each bring a new perspective that is great! I am in it consulting and it's always exciting when we bring on new team members as the ideas and creativity seem to grow.

This is a very interesting event. Thank you for posting it!
It seems that more and more companies have been developing social media strategies for their businesses, especially since publicity on sites like Twitter and Facebook can jeaopordize their reputation. Even at my line of work in IT consulting, we have a social media manager that oversees our online presence.