Introducing the SHSMD Social Media Network

With my retirement from Mayo Clinic last month we decided that the time had come to sunset the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. I had envisioned and launched #MCSMN in 2011 as a connection hub and learning space about social media in health care for not only Mayo Clinic staff but also colleagues nationally and even worldwide.

All of the services were available to Mayo Clinic staff at no charge, while external members had both free and paid options. We also hosted annual conferences on health care social media, and even international conferences in Australia (Brisbane and Melbourne) and Dubai, United Arab Emirates and two virtual conferences with the Society for Health Care Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD).

We had a good run with #MCSMN and it aligned with Mayo Clinic’s history and values, but with my retirement it was time to reassess whether it should be a priority for my successor. Social networking and social media is important for health care organizations, but hosting an external social media network for health professionals isn’t exactly Mayo Clinic’s core business.

As a membership organization of the American Hospital Association, this IS very well aligned with the SHSMD mission.

Many members of #MCSMN expressed interest in having a space to stay connected, and so I’m glad to announce that SHSMD has established the SHSMD Social Media Network to meet this need.

I’m committing to participating regularly, and I hope you will join and help to create a vibrant and mutually supportive community.

How to Join

If you’re already a member of the broader SHSMD community it’s easy to join: just go here and once you’re logged in, click the Join Group button at the top.

Everyone who participated in the #MayoSHSHMD Virtual Conference this year already has a SHSMD membership!

For those who didn’t, SHSMD Executive Director Diane Weber has gotten the AHA IT team to create a mechanism so non-SHSMD members (even our international colleagues) can participate in this group within the SHSMD community too, but it takes a few additional steps.

If you’re not currently a member of SHSMD:

  1.  First set up a FREE account with the American Hospital Association (SHSMD is part of AHA) by clicking on Register/Login Button, then “Create an Account” at

2.      Log in at using your new credentials.

3.      Click this link to sign up for the community.  It will seem like a checkout cart with $0 purchase.

Once you have completed those steps, go to the SHSMD – Social Media Network group and click the Join Group button.

I hope my health care colleagues with an interest in social media will take advantage of this opportunity to stay connected and continue growing together.

The #MCSMN Story (11): Audio Companion

Just out this morning is a discussion with Chris Boyer and Reed Smith on their touch point podcast as we review and share memories from the last 10+ years.

As they titled it, “What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been: A Conversation with Lee Aase”

It was great to swap stories with these guys who were part of our original External Advisory Board, contributors to Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care, and who were in our 2014 Class of #MCSMN Platinum Fellows.

If you’ve enjoyed this series I think you’ll find our discussion interesting too.

The #MCSMN Story (10): The Star Wars Team and Mayo Clinic Collaborators

Dr. Farris Timimi and I have been blessed with consistently outstanding team members working with us on the Mayo Clinic social media team.

In some ways I think of our team over the years as a symphony, with three distinct movements.

Our original social media team continued until the end of 2014, with Tony Hart joining the team to support CME promotion in Oct. 2012. The first of our members to move on was Susana Shephard, who took a role with the Mayo Clinic Care Network, and about a year later Jason Pratt went into business full time with his brothers.

At about that time, as our newly consolidated Communications Division was engaged in strategic planning, we renamed our social media team to have a broader focus than only social media, and with an emphasis on continued leadership in innovation.

We became the Social & Digital Innovation team.

Those of us who are of a certain vintage remember the 1980s national defense strategy called the Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI, aimed at shooting down incoming nuclear missiles, which also was known as “Star Wars.”

Thus our SDI team took on a catchy moniker: The Star Wars Team.

From early 2015 through much of 2019 our Star Wars Team was comprised of the members pictured in the header of this post. This was the second movement of the symphony.

In addition to Makala Arce, Shawn Bishop, Stacy Theobald and me from the original team, we were joined by Shea Jennings, Taryn Offenbacher, Audrey Laine Seymour and Margaret Shepard. Shea took on the CME role after Tony Hart moved to Marketing, while the other three were focused on serving Mayo’s Arizona, Florida and Minnesota campuses, respectively.

As Taryn and Audrey Laine accepted other positions in 2019 we added Jessica Saenz (Arizona) and Robby Weber (Florida) to the Star Wars Team, with Amanda Roe supporting Neurosciences, and they along with Stacy form the team’s ongoing nucleus. With my retirement, Ron Petrovich is back leading the team into the symphony’s third movement, coming full circle from when he was the second person hired when we launched our major expansion in 2010.

Beyond our core team, until COVID-19 intervened we had several part time supplemental staff helping with Mayo Clinic Connect moderation and involved in client-funded social media projects: Lisa Lucier, Justin McClanahan, Ethan McConkey and Kanaaz Pereira. They contributed significantly to the overall work, and in the COVID era the work of our volunteer mentors for Mayo Clinic Connect has been essential to maintaining a healthy community.

Over the past decade we have seen well over 700 Mayo Clinic physicians join the social media revolution by creating Twitter accounts, and scores if not hundreds of key collaborators have advocated for social media adoption within Mayo Clinic.

Just as we benefited from an External Advisory Board we had a parallel Internal Advisory Group that met regularly to serve as a bridge from the Center for Social Media to the units and interests they represented.

Given the sheer number of individuals I won’t link to all of their Twitter bios, but I just want the world to know that what they saw the Star Wars Team doing in social media on behalf of Mayo Clinic was enabled by so many contributors:

  • Media Relations colleagues like Karl Oestreich, Kevin Punsky, Traci Klein, Ginger Plumbo, Sharon Theimer, Rhoda Madson and Tia Ford.
  • Our attorney, Dan Goldman, and Mayo’s domain master, Brian Kaihoi, as well as Monica Seven-Ziebell and John Bloomquist.
  • Marketing allies including Veena Nayar, Elizabeth Rice, Melissa Bear, Cindy Elliott, Elizabeth Klein and Jeff Warnock.
  • leaders and staff over the years, including Matt Feyen, Jay Maxwell, Les Polk, Joyce Even, Brian Laing, Tom Pankratz and more.
  • Communications leaders like Amy Davis, Annie Burt, Karl Oestreich, Fran Lynch, Jason Fortin, Suzanne Leaf-Brock and Bryan Anderson, as well as their teams.
  • News and employee communications teams that developed so much of the content we shared on the Mayo Clinic accounts.
  • Physician champions including Drs. Daniel Cabrera, Angela Mattke, Amy Kotsenas, Sharonne Hayes, Vincent Rajkumar, Justin Kreuter, Halena Gazelka and dozens more.
  • Internal Advisory Group advocates such as Gene Dankbar, Jeremy Jensen, Andy Tofilon, Laurie Wilshusen, Elizabeth Harty, Jane Jacobs, Brent Bultema and Yue Dong.

I could go on all night as more of these champions come to mind, but I have resolved to publish this post before midnight CDT, while I am still technically employed by Mayo Clinic.

I’m getting down to my last hour.

I have often said I was blessed to be in the right place at the right time to lead Mayo Clinic’s exploration and eventual embrace of social media. Because of Mayo Clinic’s stature and the support of our leaders, we had an opportunity to play a role in encouraging other health care organizations in their social media journeys.

With the help of the people listed above, and many others, I think we made the most of it.

As I look forward to starting my third career, I’m overwhelmed looking back and remembering so many people who have been so important in these last 21 years, and particularly the last 11.

My cup runneth over.

Tomorrow I’ll share one part of what I have in the works for Career #3.

The #MCSMN Story (9): Evolution of the EAB and A Final Class of Platinum Fellows

The Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (#MCSMN) has been blessed to bring together so many creative and energetic thought leaders over the last decade to serve on our External Advisory Board. Beyond those recognized in this post and this one, others who joined the movement in an official role but have not yet been previously mentioned in this series included:

  • Kristine (KS) Austin
  • Vicki Bencken
  • Dr. Katherine Y. Brown
  • Amanda Changuris
  • Kimberly Dorris
  • Marie Ennis-O’Connor
  • Beth Granger
  • David Grayson, M.D.
  • Claire H. Johnston
  • Janet Kennedy
  • Greg Matthews 
  • Matthew Rehrl, M.D., M.S.
  • Mike Sevilla, M.D.
  • Audun Utengen
  • Kathy Winter

To make room for new EAB members, some of the previous members rotated off. For 10 of them over the years, we created a special category of #MCSMN Fellow – Platinum – as something of a “lifetime achievement award” recognizing their long-term contributions. Those included:

Class of 2013

Class of 2014

Class of 2017

So today, as I retire from Mayo Clinic and we sunset #MCSMN, Dr. Farris Timimi and I decided it would be fitting to designate one final class of #MCSMN Platinum Fellows. Two of them were part of our original External Advisory Board and served continuously for a decade, while others joined more recently and have been particularly active. The Class of 2021 includes:

When we started the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and the Social Media Health Network 11 years ago I could not have imagined all that we would accomplish, and all of the wonderful people who would join us in this movement.

It’s only fitting on my last day as an active staff member at Mayo Clinic to recognize the people inside and outside of the organization who have been such key contributors.

In my final post in this series this evening, I’ll turn to honoring those who have been part of our social media team – a.k.a. The Star Wars Team – as well as other allies and contributors within Mayo Clinic.

The #MCSMN Story (8): The Power of Collaboration

Teamwork is one of eight fundamental Franciscan values Mayo Clinic espouses in its RICH TIES framework: Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Healing, Teamwork, Innovation, Excellence, and Stewardship.

As important as teamwork is among Mayo Clinic staff, that isn’t its only context. As we showed through various Mayo Clinic Social Media Network projects, collaboration with colleagues and organizations outside of Mayo Clinic multiplied the impact as well.

I’ve previously cited the writing of Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Healthcare, as well as our international social media summits in Australia and Dubai and our work with Hootsuite to produce the first CME-accredited course in the basics of health care social media.

Here are a few more highlights of ways we worked with other organizations on important projects with broader public purposes:

Colorectal Cancer Prevention: Mayo Clinic Gastroenterologist Paul Limburg, M.D. encouraged our team to work with Fight Colorectal Cancer (@FightCRC), a national advocacy organization, to promote colonoscopy and other screening tests for colorectal cancer.

From my perspective this is an ideal situation for applying social media for disease prevention. Colorectal cancer is one of the leading cancer killers, but if screening detects a precancerous polyp it can be removed before it can turn into cancer. And yet only about 70% of eligible adults were getting screened in the middle of the last decade, when #MCSMN began working first with Fight CRC and then with the broader National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT).

In 2015 we conducted the #StrongArmSelfie campaign with Fight CRC, which urged advocates to post selfies of themselves flexing against colorectal cancer to raise awareness of the need for screening. One of Mayo’s key contributions was producing this music video for an anthem country artist Craig Campbell, a Fight CRC ally, wrote and recorded in support of the campaign:

As we were in planning calls with Fight CRC discussing what to do for an encore in 2016, it was about the time Periscope was making live video streaming available to anyone with a cell phone. TV anchors had previously broadcast their experiences in getting a colonoscopy to demystify the process and raise awareness, so we got the idea of streaming a colonoscopy from Mayo Clinic via Periscope.

Thus was conceived the #ScopeScope. And about five minutes into the discussion I recognized it would be a lot simpler from a patient consent perspective if someone who fit the demographic and was part of the planning team were to be the patient whose colonoscopy was streamed. I knew a guy.

We did events with NCCRT at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York in 2017, in Los Angeles in 2018 and at CDC HQ in Atlanta in 2019, all aimed at driving the screening percentage to 80%. Personally, seeing my image on the NASDAQ Jumbotron in Times Square (as shown in the header of this post) was an unforgettable milestone.

Experts by Experience. Medical and scientific experts develop deep understanding of disease processes, but they don’t have the perspective of the patient who actually lives with the disease. John Novack, then with the online patient community Inspire, approached us to take over publication of a monthly series of blog posts by patients, which we did for two years. Authors alternated between Inspire members and those from Mayo Clinic Connect, and we posted them on the #MCSMN site.

#MayoSHSMD Virtual Conference(s). In October 2019 Lisa Hinkle from the Society for Health Care Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) of the American Hospital Association approached Dan Hinmon and me with an idea to jointly produce an advanced conference on social media and digital marketing in May or June of 2020. This would be in addition to SHSMD’s annual conference later in the year, and would be virtual.

Having just completed the #MCSMN conference and with the #hcsmDXB conference still to come in December 2019, Dan and I agreed, in consultation with Dr. Timimi, that a virtual conference in 2020 would be a good change of pace.

#MayoSHSMD was virtual before virtual was essential. And based on its success, we were delighted to do another virtual conference with SHSMD about eight weeks ago, which as it turned out was our last #MCSMN event. Lisa Hinkle, Diane Weber, Stephanie Stewart and the whole SHSMD team were great collaborators, and they’ve expressed eagerness to continue to serve this movement even as the #MCSMN organization sunsets.

In all of these collaborations, it wasn’t just Mayo Clinic joining with the national organizations. We had many of our external members of #MCSMN participating as well, which made the projects even more powerful.

In the final two posts in this series chronicling the work of #MCSMN and the people who made it happen, I will highlight other external collaborators as well as Mayo Clinic staff (including social media team members through the years) whose contributions have been so meaningful.