The Mayo Clinic is opening a school of social media for health providers, the (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Star Tribune
reports. The new "Center for Social Media… [will] train other health care organizations to use Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to connect patients and doctors. The new center will run workshops, offer consulting and host conferences." The Star Tribune writes that it is an unusual approach for the hospital industry, which is typically worried about the risk of a public relations mistake and prefers more conservative approaches. "But Mayo, which started podcasting in 2005, has embraced social media, which it sees as an extension of old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing" (May Yee, 7/27).
Lee Aase, Mayo's top social media guru, told The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog, "The real focus is looking for ways to increase the use of social media throughout the practice at Mayo — to provide in-depth information for patients in a much more comprehensive way, and to create connections between researchers, physicians and staff. Up until now we've had the equivalent of a person and a half working through the P.R. department, and we want to take that same model to the whole enterprise at Mayo. We'll have the equivalent of about eight full-time employees, including a medical director" (Hobson, 7/27).
KAAL-TV, an ABC affiliate, reports, "Some of the services provided by the new center will include training for health care employees, consulting and coaching to help enhance business goals and using social media as a resource for various medical information" (7/27).