by Chris Heydt
This week, the Mayo Clinic announced the launch of its very own Center for Social Media – a first-of-its-kind social media center focused on health care. “Through this center we intend to lead the health care community in applying these revolutionary tools to spread knowledge and encourage collaboration among providers, improving health care quality everywhere” said Mayo Clinic president and CEO John Noseworthy, MD.
This announcement is a great step in the further acceptance and application of social media to advance patient health, and it got me thinking about the concept of leadership.
Leadership can be defined as “a process whereby an individual (or organization, in this case) influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal [Northouse, 2007].” Whether that leader is an official one, such as a trade association or federal agency, or an informal influencer, we all look to leaders for guidance and validation that we are doing the right thing.
Given the complex nature of health care communication, the value that Mayo Clinic’s new Center will provide is in its role as the formal leader – or champion – for the health care community. They have the opportunity to step up and help institutions considering stepping into the space feel confident that they can trust the Mayo Clinic to lead them in the right direction. The ways that I see the Mayo Clinic can best do this is S.H.A.R.E.
- Showcase the value of integrating social media into health care through analyzing and assessing their own efforts.
- Harness their position as an existing leader to cast a wide influence in the health care community.
- Arm others with the resources needed to implement social media programs – resources are often one of the main reasons that organizations like health care facilities shy away from social media.
- Rally the health care community to work together towards a common goal by serving as the convener of conversation on the subject.
- Educate through a structured and centralized on-demand curriculum specific to their needs that health care facilities would not have access to otherwise.
We’ve seen a large increase in interest in utilizing social media among hospitals in particular, with a 400% growth of hospitals on Facebook since June 2009. But according to Ed Bennett’s Hospital Social Networking List, that’s only about 15% of the more than 5,000 hospitals in the US. If this trend of social media acceptance continues, and I believe it will, there will be many more facilities looking to understand how they can and should be using social media.
If hospitals and other health care facilities do start to turn to the Mayo Clinic for guidance on how they should be using social media to communicate with their community, as the Mayo Clinic believes they will, those who engage these institutions will need to be aware of the guidance they are receiving. Every facility will of course adjust this guidance to fit their goals, but understanding the foundation of their approach will have a definite impact on how they respond to engagement.