New social network focused on patient health
Patients worldwide benefit from information, support
Mayo Clinic is a leader among health care providers in using social media tools, with the most popular medical provider channel on YouTube, more than 300,000 followers on Twitter and more than 80,000 connections on Facebook. Mayo physicians and staff members also host numerous blogs that offer the latest news on cutting-edge Mayo Clinic research.
So why then, would an institution that's already so well represented and already so easily accessible on every major social networking site decide to design, create, launch and manage its own specialty social network for patients? Lee Aase, director of Mayo Clinic's Center for Social Media, says there are several reasons.
"We wanted to give patients a place to come together to have discussions around their particular diseases or conditions. We wanted to give them a place to interact that wasn't Facebook — so that they wouldn't have to have all of their Facebook friends knowing about their medical interests or concerns."
Free of advertising, open to all
The new site is MayoClinic.org/Connect. Aase points out another crucial difference between the new Mayo social media site and Facebook: "We wanted a community that was free of advertising."
The network is free and is open to anyone, whether the person has been a patient at Mayo Clinic or not. It includes content from various Mayo Clinic blogs, health and medical videos from Mayo's YouTube channel and links to news articles about Mayo Clinic research and treatment advances. It features a discussion forum where members can share information and ask questions regarding diagnoses, treatment options and side effects of treatment.
The new social networking site also provides valuable information to prospective patients on what it's like to receive care at any of the Mayo Clinic sites in Rochester, Minn., Jacksonville, Fla., Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., and the Mayo Clinic Health System. "We wanted to provide a place where people could get feedback on the Mayo Clinic experience," says Aase.
"I think it is wonderful," says one member. "Everyone who suffers needs to have access to useful information and help with their issues."
"I like the fact that I can share my story of illness, and I can also help someone with their illness as well," says another member.
Companion mobile application
More than 1,000 people joined the Mayo Clinic community during its first week in July 2011, and Aase says that number has now grown to more than 14,000. The site has been such a success with patients that Aase says a companion mobile application was launched back in October 2011 to allow people to access the site on smartphones.
On the Mayo Clinic community site people can:
- Meet others with similar health interests.
- Share stories.
- Find support.
- Hear about Mayo Clinic.
A long history of social media leadership
"Our founders saw it as their mission to reduce the burden of disease everywhere, not just in their rural practice here in Rochester, Minn., over a hundred years ago," says Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy, M.D. "Following in their example, I'm proud to say that Mayo Clinic is the leader in using social media in medicine."
Broadly practical, revolutionary tools
"Social media makes the union of forces more broadly practical now than at any other time in human history," says Dr. Noseworthy. "Mayo Clinic is committed to applying these revolutionary tools to promote health, fight disease and improve health care."
"I think this site is great!" says a member. "Very often it is hard to find others who are experiencing the same health issues."