The #MCSMN Story (7): Becoming #MCSMN, Going International and Fulfilling the Promise of Mayo Clinic Connect

After the #MayoRagan years Mayo Clinic began hosting annual #MCSMN conferences, rotating among our Rochester, Minn., Phoenix, Ariz. and Jacksonville, Fla. locations.

2015 brought many significant turning points, developments and milestones in Mayo Clinic’s social media program, the first of which was merging the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media (MCCSM) and the Social Media Health Network (SMHN) into a new structure called the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (#MCSMN).

When we originally conceived our externally facing network in 2010, Mayo Clinic didn’t have a naming convention for an entity that was sponsored by Mayo but was comprised of external members, and thus we had to use the generic, non-branded name. But this also created confusion for our Mayo Clinic staff who we also wanted to be involved. When we invited them to join SMHN, it wasn’t apparent to them that this was a Mayo-sponsored site. Was it really even OK for them to join?

Thankfully, with the founding of the Mayo Clinic Care Network later in 2011, we then had a naming convention to apply to our social media network, which became the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. This reduced both internal and external confusion, and we even had MCSMN membership become part of the benefit package for Mayo Clinic Care Network members.

Mayo Clinic staff and students saw the shields logo and recognized it was an official Mayo site. And as we offered memberships externally, the value we could offer was access to the same training and resources Mayo Clinic provided for its staff.

Among those resources was the Social for Health Certificate from Mayo Clinic and Hootsuite. As Social Media Residency had evolved since 2012, it became apparent we needed to make it a more advanced program while remaining accessible for newer social media users. The online certificate, for which we secured CME accreditation through the Mayo Clinic School of Continuous Professional Development (MCSCPD), provided 24/7 on-demand access to basic training, and was a prerequisite for Social Media Residency.

We unveiled the online course in September 2015 at another milestone event, our first Mayo Clinic International Healthcare and Social Media Summit in Brisbane, Australia. As I mentioned in the previous post, Lisa Wylde from the Australian Private Hospital Association had attended one of the #MayoRagan conferences and strongly suggested we do an event like that in Australia.

Thus was born #MayoInOz, and the sequel the following year in Melbourne. I’m grateful to Lisa and the great planning committee that put together those events, to Ed Bennett and Cynthia Manley for their above-and-beyond support in getting to Brisbane to be part of the faculty and to Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson for keynoting.

See these recaps of Day 1 and Day 2 of the Brisbane conference, which also was where we met Dr. David Grayson from New Zealand, who joined our External Advisory Board and attended several of our conferences, both in the U.S. and in the UAE in December 2019 when we held the first Middle East Healthcare Social Media Summit at Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) in Dubai.

Special thanks to Dr. Amer Sharif (a real Chancellor) and everyone at MBRU for all they did to make that event a success, along with colleagues from (MCSCPD), Mayo Clinic Care Network and American Hospital Dubai. Among many other experiences, one special highlight of that trip was my first camel ride, with Dan Hinmon. Thanks to Dr. Timimi for suggesting we all do that desert safari on the morning we arrived!

Speaking of Dan, I also want to call out him and Colleen Young for the roles they have played since 2015. Dan was the Community Director for MCSMN and did so much to cultivate conversations and plan webinars and conferences. He’s a great colleague and friend, and also played an essential role in our #MayoSHSMD Virtual Conference, which I’ll discuss in a future post.

Both Dan and Colleen were among the authors contributing to Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care, so their interest in this work predates their employment with Mayo.

Colleen still serves as Community Director for Mayo Clinic Connect, Mayo’s owned online patient community which now has more than 110,000 members.

When we launched that community in 2011 it was related to an advertising campaign in which one of the calls to action was “Connect with someone who’s been there.” For the first few years without strategic community management we had a lot more of the ad respondents as members of the site than we did people who had been to Mayo Clinic. Among her many contributions that are too numerous to mention here, Colleen has cultivated a community that is much more in keeping with the original vision of Mayo Clinic Connect, and has helped us achieve even more than we had considered.

And of course she’s Canadian, which is in keeping with the international theme of this post.

When discussing international participation I would be remiss if I were to fail to mention our good friend Shigeo Uehara from Japan, who attended annually both in the U.S. and in Australia, as well as Olga Schibli from Switzerland, who attended the last conferences in Phoenix and Jacksonville and who graciously hosted Lisa and me when we vacationed in Germany, Switzerland and Austria in April 2019.

In my next post I’ll highlight some of the projects we undertook with external collaborators, both for health promotion and disease prevention as well as to equip colleagues to use social media and digital strategies in their work.

The #MCSMN Story (6): Social Media Residency and Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care

From 2012 to 2014, Mayo Clinic’s social media program through the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media (#MCCSM) and the Social Media Health Network (SMHN) continued to grow significantly both in the number of people involved and in concrete accomplishments.

Two of the major developments in this period included Social Media Residency and our book, Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care. After I describe those, I’ll finish with a few other highlights.

We held our first Social Media Residency in conjunction with the #MayoRagan conference in 2012. This was a chance for both our Mayo Clinic staff as well as those coming to the conference from around the U.S. (and increasingly from distant lands) to have an intense, hands-on experience in using social media and discussing health care applications.

We called it “Residency” both because people were “in residence” at Mayo Clinic for this experience, and as an analogy to medical residency as the way medical school graduates get their advanced training. We extended this metaphor throughout the program, as for example we had Facebook, Twitter and video “rotations” and members of my team and External Advisory Board members were “chief residents.”

That first time we carried it a little too far, however. Medical Residency is grueling, so we (or rather I) thought we should do the same with Social Media Residency. We made it a two-day program crammed into a day and a half. How?

We went from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. the first day.

And then we gave the Residents an assignment to draft a social media strategic plan overnight, to present the next morning.

This was after most had already participated in the #MayoRagan conference, which was two full days (plus optional pre-conference workshops.)

We had open rebellion in the ranks.

We learned from our (my) mistake, however, and dialed it back to a single day and with a more normal 8-5 schedule. For the next couple of years held Social Media Residency twice per year on each Mayo Clinic campus (Rochester, Minn., Jacksonville, Fla. and Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz.) One was in conjunction with #MayoRagan, while the others were standalone. We maintained a ratio of one Chief Resident per eight Residents, and at the end of the program presented certificates to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance.

In addition to other resources and handouts in their official binder, Residents also received a copy of our book, Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care, as their textbook. We published this just in time for #MayoRagan 2012 and it was the big project Dr. Timimi and I revealed in our opening keynote.

Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care was a collection of essays, mostly from members of our External Advisory Board (EAB), making the argument for why health care organizations and professionals should get involved in social media. Meredith Gould, Ph.D. was our editor, and besides Dr. Timimi and me and a foreword from Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy, M.D. (which I may or may not have had a role in drafting) authors included:

As I flip through the book’s pages even today I’m amazed at the group we pulled together to produce this book, and the concise quality of the contributions. I’m glad it included several patient voices, and that we used all proceeds from sales of the book to support patient scholarships to attend our conferences and Social Media Residency, a decision the authors graciously and enthusiastically supported.

Some other key projects and developments during 2012-14 included:

Our #SocialAtMayo video, produced by Jason Pratt, which included members of our Mayo Clinic social media team explaining Mayo’s employee social media guidelines as well as several employees describing how they use social media in their work. It also has a nice soundtrack that will be familiar to those who watched the video in my last post.

As you’ll see in the video, we had added a new team member, Tony Hart, who had a position using social media to promote CME courses for the Department of Medicine.

We also added several new members to the EAB, as others completed their terms:

We began holding Social Media Grand Rounds, modeled after medical or surgical grand rounds meetings, as a way between conferences to share case studies or best practices, whether those were from within Mayo Clinic or from our member organizations.

Finally, in keeping with the Residency metaphor, we also developed a Social Media Fellows program for those who were taking home the lessons and applying them strategically in their work.

  • Bronze Fellows developed a strategic plan for using social media in their work.
  • Silver Fellows executed their plan and reported back what they had learned.
  • Gold Fellows were those who began giving back by teaching and encouraging others to use social media in health care.

Lisa Wylde was the first person to achieve both Silver and Gold status. As a leader in the Australian Private Hospitals Association, she attended our conference and Residency and not only applied her learnings, but bought 1,000 copies of our book to distribute among hospital leaders in Australia.

Lisa’s involvement in the network led to some developments I never would have imagined.

I’ll describe those in my next post.

The #MCSMN Story (5): Key 2011 Foundations

We officially launched the Social Media Health Network (SMHN) site, the precursor to the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network, on Feb. 10, 2011 using a local service provider. Our platform was WordPress with the open source BuddyPress plug-in, which enabled us to create user accounts.

Having dues-paying members of the network enabled me to be helpful to colleagues outside of Mayo Clinic who had questions about how to make social media work in a health care context. The revenue we generated helped to support our social media staffing. Because we wanted to be accessible to hospitals of all sizes, we set up a sliding scale for member organizations based on their annual revenues, which created some interesting issues with international government-owned hospitals.

A few weeks after we launched SMHN I got a call about membership from Paul Speyser on behalf of an online cancer community called CancerConnect.com. While I was on the phone with him I reviewed his site and noticed that the basic look and feel was similar to SMHN, so I asked him, “Do you mind tell me what the underlying technology is for your site?” His response: “WordPress and BuddyPress, just like yours.”

We had been paying a our vendor, who didn’t have previous experience with BuddyPress, at an hourly rate for programming. I saw an opportunity to barter with Paul, that instead of charging for an SMHN membership perhaps he and his team could help with programming our site. That eventually led to a long-term relationship as the company he co-founded, CareHubs, has provided the platform for not only MCSMN, but also eventually Sharing Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Connect, the Mayo Clinic News Network and Mayo’s News Center for staff.

Speaking of Mayo Clinic Connect, this Mayo-hosted online community for patients and caregivers which now has more than 110,000 members also had its origins in 2011, officially launching July 5. At that time our community platform wasn’t yet really ready for prime time, so initially we used a white label version of another health community site. We later migrated to CareHubs.

So in many ways a network recruitment call laid the foundation for many of the capabilities Mayo Clinic has had beyond using the general-purpose social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Another foundational development was selecting Dr. Farris Timimi in December 2011 as Medical Director for Social Media to replace Dr. Victor Montori, who had originally served in an informal, volunteer role and needed to direct his attention elsewhere. This partnership between physician and administrative leaders for significant initiatives is part of Mayo Clinic’s secret sauce. Dr. Timimi has been an integral leader of our social media efforts, particularly in relationships with his fellow physicians and bringing clinical practice, education and research perspectives into our programs.

Given our interest in having annual conferences to gather the broader health care social media community to learn and share best practices, our early collaboration with Mark Ragan and Ragan Communications also was important. They handled the event details and logistics and consulted with us on speaker selection. With all we had to do in launching Mayo Clinic’s social media efforts, running conferences was outside of our scope, so we essentially hosted their conference as a joint effort for several years, using #MayoRagan as the conference hashtag

Those annual conferences created an interesting rhythm for our program, too. When Dr. Timimi and I would deliver the opening keynote address, one part of it would be highlighting what we had accomplished in the previous year. So at the October 2011 #MayoRagan conference one of those updates was telling the story of Mayo Clinic Connect, which we had launched a few months earlier.

We also used those conference keynotes as opportunities to unveil new projects or to launch new initiatives. In 2011 our novel project resulted from our cardiology colleagues approaching our team with an idea to do a version of the 2010 Pink Glove dance, but with red surgical gloves (for heart disease) instead of pink (for breast cancer awareness.)

While we didn’t want to get into producing an unoriginal derivative knock-off, it did get our creative juices flowing. We only wanted to do it if it would be something meaningful, educational and fun. The result we unveiled at #MayoRagan 2011 was our Know Your Numbers music video, a parody of Tommy TuTone’s 1981 hit, 867-5309/Jenny. I was the author of the parody lyrics and the Executive Producer, and Makala (Johnson) Arce did a great job as Director.

We created a band for just one night:

As the song mentions and the video shows, we also created an educational app for Mayo’s Facebook page. It was a fun project that also was went deeper.

2011 was a whirlwind year, but we were just getting started. In tomorrow’s post in this series I will recount developments from 2012-2014.

The #MCSMN Story (4): Recruiting a Team and External Advisory Board

After the July 26, 2010 announcement of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media (MCCSM) and Social Media Health Network (SMHN), the enthusiastic response created a significant urgency to make them happen.

Over the next several months we built Mayo Clinic’s first dedicated social media team to join MCCSM and support SMHN, and also recruited a stellar External Advisory Board.

The MCCSM Team

In addition to Dana Sparks and Joel Streed, who had been part of my team for several years as mentioned in part 1 of this series, and whose early work got us some of the quick wins that built momentum for the program, approval of MCCSM meant we could bring several new members to the team:

Makala Johnson (now Makala Arce) was Employee #1. She had been an intern and then filled in during a maternity leave on another team. She started as a Communications Associate in September 2010 and grew with us until she elected to stay home after her own maternity leave in August 2019. I’ll highlight some of her work in a future post.

Ron Petrovich came from a TV news background and became the manager on our team, taking charge of our syndicated media efforts among his many other roles. He has since advanced to become a peer as Communications Director for Mayo Clinic’s News Delivery team, and with my retirement next week is back in the saddle leading the Social Media team too.

Shawn Bishop came from our Mayo Clinic IT department and brought important technical skills to our team, especially as we developed our WordPress-based blog and community platform through CareHubs. He started as a Communications Associate and progressed to Senior Communications Specialist. He continues that good work in a newer role with Mayo’s Center for Digital Health.

We also added three Communications Specialists to the team, one for each of Mayo’s three group practice sites. Randy Schwarz was on the Rochester, Minn. campus and also had the major responsibility for SMHN. Jason Pratt was our first Florida Specialist and had an emphasis on social video production, bringing lots of energy to the team. Susana Shephard in Arizona had background as a Spanish interpreter, and so in addition to her social media consultations she took the initiative to create Spanish accounts for Mayo Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.

Polly Gilgenbach, Joyce Groenke, Laurel Kelly and Stacy Theobald were administrative assistants who took on expansive roles in support of this initiative. While Polly and Joyce preceded me into Mayo Clinic retirement by several years, Stacy has advanced from assistant to coordinator and, with the completion of her bachelor’s degree, is now the social media Communications Specialist for the Minnesota campus. Laurel is a coordinator working with Ron on the News Delivery team.

The picture at the top of this post is from our second team retreat, which was 10 years ago last week, and also includes our first medical director for social media, Dr. Victor Montori, who volunteered for the first couple of years after having helped to inspire the creation of MCCSM.

The External Advisory Board (EAB)

The first members of the EAB came from those I had met online and in-person who were sharing helpful perspectives on the use of social media in health care. In and among the staff hiring interviews, I was scheduling calls to invite these online allies to be part of the EAB.

After we got our first dozen members, however, I realized that in addition to this old-fashioned networking I needed to harness the power of social media and crowdsource the remaining EAB members. We announced the initial members but then created an open invitation process for others to express interest in joining.

I often say, “Facebook is for your friends. Twitter is for the friends you don’t know yet.” Our EAB process demonstrated the truth of this proposition. By opening the applications and promoting with appropriate hashtags through Twitter we were able to pull together an amazing EAB.

The picture below is from our first in-person meeting, in Jacksonville in March 2011, and in addition to Shel Holtz on the big screen via Skype it includes several of our MCCSM staff as well as other interested Mayo Clinic staff.

Our first EAB roster (obviously not all of whom could attend our first meeting) included:

In my next post I’ll share some of the highlights of what we accomplished during those early years, along with some innovations and interesting projects.

The #MCSMN Story (3): Creating The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and Social Media Health Network

It was 11 years ago today that Mayo Clinic announced formation of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media (MCCSM) and the Social Media Health Network (SMHN), which eventually became the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN).

As MCSMN is sunsetting Saturday, this post is the next in my series looking back at its origins, growth and legacy, and also recognizing those who contributed so much to bring the social media revolution to health care.

Once we got approval in principle for an expanded social media effort at Mayo Clinic in early 2010, I began convening brainstorming and planning sessions to outline what “bigger and bolder” should look like.

Most of those discussions were internally focused, and included colleagues from various Mayo Clinic departments, divisions and functions. The vision we were developing was to encourage strategic application of social media not just in external communications and marketing, but also in clinical practice, research and education.

We had been using social media tools for a few years to do our media relations work more effectively. Our task force’s role was to set up what became MCCSM, to serve as a resource to our Mayo colleagues throughout the organization so they could do likewise in their work.

To use a chemistry metaphor, we wanted to be a catalyst. A catalyst reduces the activation energy in a chemical reaction. By developing guidelines and best practices, along with a strong enterprise-level presence on the major social networks, we would make it easier for our Mayo Clinic colleagues to embrace and apply social media. We would work out the kinks and also resolve some of the issues that might otherwise hinder them.

We would reduce the “hump” they would have to get over.

Extending this principle was the idea behind SMHN, a sibling organization to MCCSM. As we were developing helpful resources and programs in social media for our Mayo staff, we saw SMHN as a way to make them available to colleagues elsewhere, while also recovering some of the development costs through paid memberships and event registrations.

Even more important from my perspective was the reality that we were all trying to figure out this health care social media landscape, and by convening SMHN and recruiting an External Advisory Board (EAB) for MCCSM we could rally smart people into a movement where we could learn together.

The folks I mentioned in part 1 of this series were essentially the proto-EAB, and Reed Smith’s perspective through the Texas Hospital Association and his wife’s experience with The Studer Group was particularly helpful. Andy Sernovitz’s example in creating The Blog Council (now socialmedia.org), a group of the leaders of social media in large organizations, made me think perhaps there was a place for a similar gathering of representatives from hospitals of all sizes.

Mayo Clinic had joined The Blog Council, and as we created SMHN the goal was to extend services and education not only to the leaders of social media in smaller hospitals, but also to clinical and research champions interested in health care social media.

Our vision was first to equip our Mayo Clinic staff, then to equip the social media equippers in other organizations, and finally to support clinicians and researchers who might be the lone early social media advocates. Mayo Clinic’s sponsorship provided some “air cover” (switching from chemistry to military metaphors) that helped advocates sell the legitimacy of social media to their leaders.

Mayo Clinic’s announcement of MCCSM and SMHN on July 26, 2010 was met with significant interest and even excitement. That meant we needed to immediately get about the business of recruiting a team and also building out our EAB.

I’ll recount that story tomorrow.