Healthcare Technology Featured Article

July 19, 2011

Mayo Clinic Creates Social Network for Patients, Families



Caring for an elderly parent? Undergoing chemo and have an awful, metallic taste in your mouth? Just had a baby and don’t know where to turn? Mayo Clinic announced it’s connecting its global community of patients and caregivers with others who share similar health interests through a new online social network, according to a story at finance.yahoo.com. The story says more than 1,000 members have already joined in just its first seven days of service.

“This new Mayo Clinic social network builds on previous social media platforms Mayo Clinic has created,” says Victor Montori, M.D., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, in the press release posted at the Web site. “It provides an environment that offers more control over privacy settings and a customizable, tailored space for conversation around health care topics among people in the same situation with no distractions of advertisement.”

Mayo Clinic has already scored big in social media, providing the most popular medical channel on YouTube, 60,000 Facebook followers, and growing towards a half-million followers on Twitter. Several blogs also “provide the latest news on Mayo Clinic research as well as general health information and stories from Mayo Clinic patients and employees,” according to the story.

“Each year, more than 500,000 unique patients from every U.S. state and nearly 150 countries visit one of our Mayo Clinic campuses in Arizona, Florida or Minnesota for diagnosis and treatment,” says Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, in the press release. “These patients, their families and friends, and Mayo Clinic’s 56,000 employees and students are part of the global Mayo Clinic community. This new site provides a place for community members to share their experiences and connect with others who’ve faced similar experiences.”

What the Mayo Clinic is calling “The Mayo Clinic online community,” is free and open to everyone, not just patients or former patients at Mayo Clinic. The community includes Mayo-Clinic-content blogs, health and medical videos from Mayo's YouTube channel and links to news articles about research and treatment advances at the Clinic, and probably most popular of all, a member discussion forum.

“Connect with others who’ve been there,” the site opens with. Comments on the site range from a woman who liked the article on fibromuscular dysplasia to people posting on their profiles to those who have become friends to discussions about alternative medicine and migraines. 

According to a story at fiercehealthit.com by Karen M. Cheung, and originally reported at blogger Ed Bennett’s Found In Cache, “less than 800 of the roughly 5,000 hospitals throughout the U.S. even have a social networking presence.”

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Deborah DiSesa Hirsch is an award-winning health and technology writer who has worked for newspapers, magazines and IBM in her 20-year career. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell




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