Mayo Clinic has long been a health care leader in social media, connecting with patients and providing information worldwide. We believe individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health. We also believe it is our responsibility to help people use social media to get the best health information, to reach out to providers and other patients, and to inspire healthy choices.
Mayo Clinic's social media channels — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, podcasts and blogs — are informative, trusted and popular, successfully reaching a worldwide audience.
Mayo Clinic has more than 125,000 followers on Twitter. Mayo posts numerous timely updates (called tweets) and links to information daily, connecting patients and professionals worldwide with a wealth of valuable health care information.
"We use Twitter to gather questions for Medical Edge Weekend," says Lee Aase, director, Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. "One Saturday, questions came from Indonesia, Australia and North Carolina. A year before — without Twitter — questions came from Rochester, Minn., Zumbrota, Minn., and Mazeppa, Minn. The potential reach with social media is incomparable."
Mayo Clinic also has been a pioneer in hospital blogging, with its Mayo News Blog, for media, patients and consumers interested in learning more about stories in the news, and Sharing Mayo Clinic, a blog that enables patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff to tell their Mayo Clinic stories. The Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center blog provides news and conversation about health care reform efforts.
Victor Montori, M.D., medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, says Mayo Clinic is involved in social media, in part, to increase transparency in health care.
"Through social media, we engage proactively in sharing what we know, including opinions about what is not in patients' best interests, and responding to the community's input," says Dr. Montori. "In this bidirectional communication, we can identify and meet patients' evolving needs. Feedback from the global community of patients is valuable, whether they ever enter the doors of a Mayo facility or not. We are an authentic voice, providing information patients can trust."
Aase agrees: "Social media is about sharing information and experiences, building relationships and strengthening ties," he says.
Aase also notes, "Mayo Clinic is geographically challenged, with 25 percent of patients who come to Rochester traveling from 500 or more miles away. The more we reach out to individuals, communities and organizations around the world, the more it will help fulfill our goal to spread what we know about health and health care far and wide."
Mayo Clinic offers training and guidance for its physicians and staff members about appropriate use of social media. "Our stance is that it is appropriate to share general information about topics via social media," says Dr. Montori. "But specific relationships should occur in accordance with Mayo's practice guidelines."
Mayo also is using social media to improve communication among its 56,000+ employees, including videos featuring John Noseworthy, M.D., discussing aspects of Mayo Clinic's strategic plan. Internal blogs stimulate discussions about the strategic plan, and feature new employees introducing themselves and discussing why they joined Mayo Clinic.