‘Tis the gift to be simple…


I had the delightful experience yesterday of meeting Dr. Carl May (@CarlRMay), a British collaborator of Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Victor Montori (@vmontori) on the concept of minimally disruptive medicine. I was honored that he wanted to meet with me during his visit to Mayo, and based on something he said during coffee I asked (or rather compelled) him to share his perspective on what makes social media valuable and successful in health care, and what he appreciates about our Mayo Clinic approach.

Here is some of what he had to say (shot in front of the famous bronze doors of the Plummer building):

Dr. May had earlier said that what he appreciates about our Mayo Clinic YouTube videos is that they are what the Quakers might call “plain” (although I’m not certain members of the Society of Friends would go for using video at all. But maybe I’m over-interpreting.”) Still, one of the famous Quaker (check that…Shaker) ditties extols the virtues of simplicity:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

I appreciated Dr. May’s compliments and wanted to share and react to them to illustrate a few points.

  1. It’s always good to have a video camera with you. If I hadn’t had my Flip camera, I would not have been able to capture this video. I almost always carry a camera in my coat pocket or laptop bag. That enables me to take advantage (in the best sense of the word) of opportunities.
  2. We do our best to make the quality of video the best it can be, given the circumstances. I would have like to have had a tripod to keep the camera completely steady, but it’s most important to get the video. It also would have been better to perhaps be a step back from him, but we were in front of a door through which people were entering and exiting, and it was slightly drizzling. We needed to be closer. And I also wanted to be sure viewers could hear him. Thus, being closer was the right solution for the situation.
  3. Unadorned video does appear more genuine and authentic, but we don’t pursue that for its own sake. The point is to be nimble and cost-effective, making valuable information and stories available. Some of the videos we put on our Mayo Clinic YouTube channel are from TV news segments our team produces, and others may be extended sound bites from those same broadcast-quality interviews, like this one on deep brain stimulation. Having those in the mix is great for YouTube, and the point is to make good information available in a nimble, resourceful way. If you have some video shot for TV with a broadcast-quality camera and lighting, by all means use that on YouTube too. But if the only video you put up is highly polished you will have some problems, which I will discuss in a future post.

Finally, here is a video of Dr. Montori discussing minimally disruptive medicine, which is among the videos Dr. May appreciated:

“Like” is the new Black


A couple of changes made or announced this week suggest that “Like” and the associated thumb icons will become the standard for ratings.

First, Facebook announced that it will no longer be using the “Become a Fan” lingo for users to indicate affinity for Pages. Instead of becoming a Fan of Mayo Clinic on Facebook, for instance, over the next few weeks you will be offered a chance to “Like” Mayo Clinic.

Advertising Age has a good analysis of the implications. I think the article’s conclusion about what it means for organizations is right: it’s one thing to say you “like” an organization, and another to say you’re a “fan.” So we may see what Facebook now calls “connections” but they will be less of an indication of intensity of feeling.

Which leads to yesterday’s significant change on YouTube. Among the other elements rolled out in the site refresh is a move away from the five-star rating to a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.

Google explains that as it analyzed what ratings were actually used, the curve was pretty heavily weighted to the five-star end:

So they decided to just go with the “Like” or thumbs-down option. People who want to express themselves further can use the video comments, or if they want to indicate a stronger “Like” they can make a video a Favorite.

So, for instance, in this video of our famous piano duo from Ankeny, Iowa:

When you view it on the YouTube site you will see this little icon giving you the chance to rate:

When you do, you get to see how others have rated:

What do you think of these changes in Facebook and YouTube? Do you “Like” them? Will you implement them in ratings on your own sites?

Cowans Make the News

Marlow and Fran Cowan, the elderly couple from Ankeny, Iowa whose piano duet at Mayo Clinic has gone “viral” in the last year (to the tune of more than 6.6 million views to date on YouTube), were the subjects last night of an extended feature on KARE TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune also has a nice article about the Cowans in this morning’s edition.

You can watch and listen to several musical selections from the Cowans’ Feb. 24 return concert at Mayo Clinic on the Mayo Clinic channel on YouTube.

Life-Saving Video Goes Viral, Gets Press Coverage

Last week, I got a direct-message tweet from Amber Smith (@AmberSmith), a reporter from Syracuse, NY. I had met Amber previously (because of Twitter) and we have interacted via Twitter, and she was tweeting because she had seen some chatter about one of our Mayo Clinic videos being among the most-tweeted videos on Twitter. It’s about continuous chest compressions, a kind of CPR that doesn’t involve mouth-to-mouth.

I have embedded that video below, but here’s the link to the in-depth story Amber did for Syracuse.com, as well as the sidebar about the viral phenomenon with this video (most of the nearly 3 million combined views as of this moment have been from a copy the Arizona Department of Health Services uploaded) and a post with more links to relevant research papers on Amber’s personal blog.

This story is another example of both Thesis 9 and Thesis 33. The original video was produced as part of our Mayo Clinic Medical Edge news program for television stations, and the story ran in 2008. Now, because of the power of social media, it has gone viral, which has led to more mainstream news coverage, which will undoubtedly increase the YouTube traffic. And as a result, more people who are untrained in mouth-to-mouth CPR will be aware of the continuous chest compressions alternative.

I hope you will take a couple of minutes to watch the video above, and also to read Amber’s story. Then I hope you will share this post (or the video) with your friends via email, or Facebook, or Twitter, or however you like to spread the word.

RAQ: Do Seniors use Social Media?

Here’s a recently asked question from Sturle Monstad (@sturlemo), from Bergen, Norway:


Thanks for collecting such a wealth of info on your SMUG site. I am using the resources in my work with health promotion for older adults. I have a contract with Lions Club in Norway on a programme they are setting up a web site for them. I am now trying to include social media for marketing and community building.

They are a bit skeptical, but well see how things work out. We see that seniors are getting more active on Facebook, and I think the interaction may be positive for many. Have you written anything about social media/seniors?


First, thanks for helping to put the “Global” in SMUG!

As I say in Thesis 23, almost everybody uses social media today, whether they know it or not. You point out correctly that Facebook is growing rapidly among those over age 55, having increased by more than 900 percent in 2009.

I also can tell you that on our Mayo Clinic YouTube channel, almost 30 percent of video views are from people age 55 or older.

As these tools are becoming ever easier to use, the growth of social media will continue. I believe women over 55, for example, are the fastest-growing demographic in Facebook.

It all comes down to whether the content or subject matter is worthwhile and interesting.

My dad turns 79 on Saturday. He’s on Facebook, too, because it’s a way to see video and photos of his great-granddaughter.

Social platforms, from blogs to Facebook to YouTube, make it easier for anyone to share information that others will find interesting.

What do you think? What other statistics or arguments about senior citizens and social media can you offer to Sturle? Do you have any personal examples or case studies to share?