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, 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.

The #MCSMN Story (2): Early Mayo Clinic Enablers and Encouragers

About 15 years ago I was blessed to be in the right place at the right time to lead Mayo Clinic’s initial exploration of social media. As manager of enterprise media relations I was able to find ways to use social media platforms, especially Twitter and YouTube, as tools to support our media relations work.

In my first post in this series I highlighted a few early external allies in the health care social media revolution, and today I want to recognize people from within Mayo Clinic who made special contributions to our growth and leadership in social media.

My team was then responsible for syndicated media production and for media relations at the enterprise level (as opposed to the specific campuses in Rochester, Arizona and Florida), and Dana Sparks and Joel Streed were my two direct reports. They had started as freelancers, but we were using them so much at a relatively higher hourly rate that I was able to make the case for hiring them full-time, which gave us several bonus hours of work capacity every week at no extra cost. Their willingness to experiment with what we called “new media” at the time was essential to our early good results. If they hadn’t been so cheerful, eager, open and engaged we wouldn’t have built our momentum so quickly.

Chris Gade was my division chair for External Relations, and our chair for the department of Public Affairs was John LaForgia. Both actively encouraged growth in our staff and exploring new ways for Mayo Clinic to connect with our key audiences, and supported me bringing in external consultants Shel Holtz and Andy Sernovitz in 2007 and 2008 to help make the case for new media and blogging. In addition to helping us learn, Shel and Andy provided an external “Lee isn’t crazy for wanting to do this” perspective, verifying that many companies in other industries were actively embracing these technologies.

In August 2009, Dr. John Noseworthy had been named as incoming CEO of Mayo Clinic, and he sent and email with a link to a news article he’d read about the growth of social media to John LaForgia, and asking whether Mayo should consider doing more in this area. As that message was forwarded to me, it gave me license to at least start contemplating an opportunity for team growth.

We were still just coming out of the 2008 Great Recession, and budgets were tight, with very little new hiring especially in administrative functions like Public Affairs. My perspective on what was possible in getting a bigger team was therefore somewhat constrained, and that’s where a meeting with two key internal visionaries was crucial to our next step.

In late 2009 I sat in the office of Dr. Victor Montori along with Jim Hodge, a senior leader in Mayo’s Department of Development and shared my vision of doubling my team from two to four members. As I talked, Jim noticed Victor (he insisted I use his first name instead of “Dr. Montori”) gradually start to slump in his chair, and he asked what was wrong. Victor was losing enthusiasm because he didn’t think I was asking for enough given the potential I was describing.

What Jim said next caused my pulse to quicken: “I have a regular monthly meeting with Dr. Noseworthy. I’ll turn over that time to you, so you can update this proposal and present it to him.”

I was astonished…and a little terrified.

In January 2010 the big moment arrived, as John LaForgia and I met with Dr. Noseworthy and Shirley Weis, who was then Mayo Clinic’s Chief Administrative Office. I outlined some of our efforts to that point, and how we had used social media to generate increase traditional media exposure and to interact with audiences directly, and Mayo Clinic’s leadership because many of our peer organizations hadn’t yet gotten involved.

My proposal called for four new staff, which would triple my direct reports. Showing the photo featured at the top of this post, I said that the good news is our “lead” in social media was actually bigger than Secretariat’s in the Belmont Stakes.

The bad news? “There’s no finish line.”

About halfway through my presentation, Shirley interrupted, “Time out. I’m sold.” Turning to Dr. Noseworthy, she said “Aren’t you, John? I just think it needs to be bigger and bolder.”

I hadn’t even gotten to my “ask” yet!

With their blessing in principle, I was then empowered to convene a broader group to develop the plan for what would become the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media (MCCSM). I’ll describe what resulted from that effort in my next post in this series.

But before I close this discussion of key early internal supporters who aided our pre-MCCSM social media journey, I need to mention a few more:

  • Brian Kaihoi, who led the Public Affairs team responsible for and when I came to work at Mayo Clinic, was and continues to be a fountain of knowledge about Mayo history and particularly negotiating its technical infrastructure.
  • Amos Kermisch, who succeeded Brian leading the web team, was a great collaborator who encouraged me to explore blogging and also helped me to understand that I could use and domain mapping to provide the hosting infrastructure while maintaining a Mayo Clinic look and feel.
  • Mindi Klein, who was part of Brian’s and then Amos’ team, programmed the RSS feed as an “above and beyond” task which made our first podcast possible.
  • Jane Jacobs, also on the web team, but with a media relations background and a good understanding of how we could harness the web for media relations. We were and are different in almost any category you could imagine (and even did a joint presentation based on that theme at a conference in Orlando), but these different perspectives made our combined work much stronger.
  • Karl Oestreich, my successor as manager for media relations, whose hiring in 2008 enabled me to focus on our syndicated media and on social media. His support was essential to keeping the media relations team engaged. He’s now my interim division chair and has been a great colleague. I’m thankful Chris Gade recognized that we needed to split up my job in 2008, because it brought Karl into our leadership team and also gave me the psychic bandwidth for leading the charge in social media.

Teamwork is among the foundational values of Mayo Clinic, and I have been blessed to work with these team members and so many more over the last 21 years. I’ll recognize more of them as this series continues.

The Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) Story

Mayo Clinic’s announcement of the creation of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media was 11 years ago next Monday.

With the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) site sunsetting on July 31, today I’m starting a 10-installment series to tell the MCSMN story and to share some memories and insights with and about this global community I’ve been blessed to help lead, in partnership with our Medical Director for Social Media, Dr. Farris Timimi.

Between now and my Aug. 3 retirement from Mayo Clinic, I’ll be doing daily posts (except Sundays) looking at the origins, mission and accomplishments of MCSMN as I have seen them.

I also want to recognize and thank people who have played important roles, either as part of our staff or as co-belligerents in our mission of Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care.

Today it seems normal and natural that hospitals would be actively engaged in social media platforms. That certainly wasn’t the case a dozen years ago when a small community of like-minded activists started to gather online and also found opportunities to meet face-to-face.

I had been blogging personally since July 2006 and was exploring how blogs and social media could help me do my job as manager for media relations at Mayo Clinic more effectively. As I attended communications and health care conferences I live-blogged the presentations and shared my perspectives, and over time was invited to speak about how we were using these tools at Mayo Clinic.

I renamed my blog Social Media University, Global (SMUG) in January 2008, which created at least a pseudo-academic motif to shape my observations. Another major inflection point came on October 31, 2009 when I emulated Rev. Martin Luther and posted my 35 Social Media Theses on the 492nd anniversary of his theological declaration.

We had lots of good examples of early success in using social media at Mayo Clinic, and I’ll be reviewing many of those in coming months in the My Career Journey series. A few of the key ones included promoting a discovery of a type of wrist ligament tear as well as the procedure to repair it, a viral piano duet in the Gonda Building atrium by a delightful elderly Iowa couple, and using the Flip camera for nimble sharing of news.

We also launched our patient stories blog, Sharing Mayo Clinic, in January 2009, and developed an published our Social Media Guidelines for Mayo Clinic employees.

Between early 2008 and December 2009 I shared our stories, practices and my perspectives in more than 560 blog posts and delivered presentations in nine states. The last several months of 2009 were kind of magical, including an opportunity to keynote the 2009 Healthcare Internet Conference at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. I also had my first opportunity for an international presentation as the great Lucien Engelen invited me to speak at his Zorg 2.0 conference in the Netherlands.

It was during that time I also made connections with and met some key colleagues including Reed Smith, Ed Bennett, Chris Boyer, Dana Lewis, Meredith Gould and Dave DeBronkart. Those face-to-face meetings led to some great conversations and developing a shared vision of what social media could mean in health care.

Dana had started the weekly #HCSM Twitter chat, Ed had created the online list of hospitals using social media, and Reed was actively encouraging social media from his position with the Texas Hospital Association. Dave was bringing the voice of the ePatient to the fore. I met Chris at Healthcamp in the Twin Cities where we had a chance to discuss why Mayo Clinic’s non-standard use of Twitter made sense for us at that time, and Meredith and I bonded over my left-behind Flip camera.

This surge in social media interest in late 2009 led me to begin thinking about what an expanded Mayo Clinic commitment to social media would look like, as well as how Mayo Clinic’s leadership could encourage other health care organizations to take the plunge. In tomorrow’s post I’ll tell the story of how and why we created the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and the Social Media Health Network, which later combined to become MCSMN.

Given the impending retirement of the MCSMN site, I hope this blog post series will serve as the repository for gathering memories about the evolution of social media in health care. If you have a memory or perspective to share, I hope you’ll do that in the comments below.

How I Got Here

That’s the title of a new podcast series by Touchpoint Media, hosted by Reed Smith, and I’m honored to be the subject of the first episode.

I’ve known Reed for more than a decade, and he’s been a great friend and trusted advisor as we developed the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Likewise with his Touchpoint Media partner, Chris Boyer.

I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did, and that it provides some insights you might find helpful in your career and life.

I look forward to the rest of the series, which features some old friends like Ed Bennett as well as others I’m looking forward to getting to know better.

Listen on iTunes or Stitcher and be sure to subscribe.