WHCC Innovator’s Showcase

During my presentation as part of the Innovator’s Showcase at the World Health Care Congress Leadership Summit on Consumer Connectivity, I’ll be talking about three kinds of health care innovation in social media. 

Straightforward application of technology, but in a health care setting.

This is the “Use as Directed” level of innovation; what is innovative is that many in health care have not taken advantage of these tools. As Mayo Clinic examples we have:

  • Facebook Fan page. We have 5,497 fans as of this writing. We established our page on November 6, 2007, the first day Facebook made pages available. To find out why we moved so quickly, see Track 1.
  • YouTube channel – We were able to customize the look to match our mayoclinic.org site, including a link to our site from the Mayo Clinic logo.
  • YammerTwitter for the Enterprise. This is a tool for workplace collaboration that you can try before you buy. You don’t have to spend on something when you don’t know whether users will…well, use it. If you don’t have a Mayo.edu email address you can’t see our Yammer site, and even if you do work at Mayo you can’t see our Social Media Team group or our Sharing Mayo Clinic editorial team group. See the Yammer curriculum for more details, but a key benefit of Yammer is the ability to hold meetings asynchronously.
  • Dropbox – Lets you mirror audio/video files “in the cloud.” You can get 2 GB of storage at no cost.
  • Blogs – If 100 million people can start blogs, it can’t be too hard for your organization. And if you don’t need branding/customization, it can even be free, but the customization is inexpensive and relatively easy.

Thinking like MacGyver – how can you creatively combine cheap (or even free) and readily available tools to accomplish your goals?


Facebook groups: Options include open groups like the WHCC group, closed groups like Health Science Career Festival Alumni, or even secret groups like the One Voice Group to gather feedback from a patient advisory group. Depending on your need for exclusivity or privacy, you can adapt these group types to get started quickly to see whether these applications would be beneficial and whether your target group would join. If you find that these are successful, or if you identify barriers to success, you can use what you’ve learned to perhaps develop a customized, single-purpose social network.

Blogs – In addition to our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog for patients and staff to share their stories, we have others hosted externally and mapped to subdomains of our Web site:

  • Podcast blog to host and serve our podcasts. Here’s a post on POTS and another on Niemann-Pick Disease Type C.
  • News blog that serves as our password-protected multimedia online newsroom, with video and audio resources for journalists. After embargo, these provide great resources for patients too.
  • This week we launched our Physician Update blog.

YouTube is the video server for our blogs, and Dropbox enables us to make large video files available for download without the muss and fuss of FTP. To see an example, right-click and “Save As…” here to download a 60 Mb video file to your desktop, or here is an example of a particular post related to a recent story.

Think Like Dr. Henry Plummer or Dr. John Kirklin.

Among his many innovations, Dr. Plummer essentially invented the PMR that makes today’s EMR possible. Dr. Kirklin took the heart-lung bypass machine developed elsewhere and perfected it.

Similarly in social media, when you have proven the concepts with the free or low-cost tools you can decide whether it’s worth the time and development expense to further customize or to pay for a premium service from a vendor.

We have some Plummeresque applications in the works. Nothing to announce just yet. Watch this space for news as it becomes available.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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