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Mayo Clinic Session Advice to Doctors on Sidelines: Get in the Social Media Game

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

mayo clinicThe Mayo Clinic Social Media gathering earlier this month made the kind of “thought leader” splash that you might expect. Mayo Clinic is a first class organization, and not surprisingly, much of the inspiring chatter and posts about social media was easily found on…well, various social media channels.

The Twitter stream flowing from the Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester, MN might lead the casual observer to think that virtually all doctors and hospitals are all-social-all-the-time. It’s sort of assumed that everyone—from solo practitioners to multi-state health systems—is deeply immersed and well versed in all facets of social media. No so.

Casual observers take note. Mayo event organizers and knowledgeable individuals in physician marketing—doctors and medical marketing professionals—all recognize that a relatively small percentage of doctors are among the Innovators and Early Adopters on the social media platforms.

With this as the backdrop, one of the Mayo sessions was a presentation by physicians, directing their comments to their professional colleagues, and making the case for the value and benefits of physicians using social media.

Observations and advice come from the social media and professional experience of Doctors Howard Luks, Christian Sinclair, Mark Ryan and Jennifer Shine Dyer. Words of wisdom from this panel, in somewhat random order, are compelling reading for fellow physicians and marketing professionals alike:

“I’m more well read now than I was before I started on social media.  I’m not only reading the information, I’m curating it, too.  And I’m two weeks ahead of my peers knowing breaking news in my industry.”

“If you can’t communicate effectively, you shouldn’t be in medicine.  If you stand back and let others control the discussion in the social space, you are leaving it to people who are often medically untrained, harboring other agendas, and on it for all the wrong reasons.”

“If you’re not distributing your views, proactively to your patients, you are letting them control the discussion.  It’s [other, questionable] information that comes up first when [patients] search on Google.  It makes what you have to say look a little less truthful. You have to get out in front.”

“If you’re looking for people in your organization to get on social media on your behalf, don’t stop with the most experienced, senior physicians.  Ask who is interested or passionate about a subject, and has something to say.  This could be OTs, PTs, Nurse Practitioners and all other kinds of specialists, not just your most prestigious physicians.”

“If you are wondering how to handle people who ask for personal health advice in social media, I compare it to doing a public talk at a rotary or similar group.  If someone asked for medical advice in that setting, most doctors would listen, then give a general overview of the issue and resources around it, without telling the patient to do anything specific.  Just relate that offline experience to the online experience, and it will give you a pretty good guideline.”

“No matter what the next hip platform is, the underlying principles of social media will always apply: Transparency, rapid sharing of information, and above all, caring about your patient on a personal level. That’s really what it’s all about.”

More about the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit is available here. And we offer a related post here: Nothing Personal, but Doctors Still Fear Social Media in Physician Marketing.

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