The ABC’s Health Report recently ran a fascinating broadcast on social media and the health sector and some experts are published below (courtesy of the ABC transcript). Or even better click through to the Health Report site and have a listen to the podcast between Norman Swan and Lee Aase, the Director of the Mayo Clinic Centre for Social Media.
Norman Swan: I must say I haven’t noticed a greater glow of person wellbeing from Facebook or Twitter although some of my colleagues certainly seem to have. What I’m talking about is the more systematic use of social and sharing media like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to make a difference to our health and wellbeing overall.
The medical journals are full of it. Health professional regulatory boards are worried about inappropriate behaviour by clinicians with their patients and then there’s the risk of even more mad stuff being out there unedited, endangering our health.
In Australia last week as a guest of the Sax Institute was Lee Aase who’s Director of the Center for Social Media at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He came in to give you and me a schtick.
Lee Aase: The schtick is that the social media revolution is the defining communication trend of the 3rd millennium.
Norman Swan: That’s a big call.
Lee Aase: That’s a big call but if you look at it starting around the late 1400s early 1500s was Gutenberg with a printing press and he and his successors owned the 15th century through the early 20th century. The 20th century was broadcast media and it’s not like any of these successful media replaced the others, but in terms of how they define the age. I’d say that social media defines the 21st century. Now literally anybody can broadcast to the world and can speak back. It creates the opportunity for much more in depth communication than you can have in broad media.
Norman Swan: In depth communication, I mean that’s where the sceptic comes out in 140 characters or on a Facebook page where you like it or not.
Lee Aase: Or on the YouTube video that may be 15 minutes.
Norman Swan: Are we talking about business to business here, in other words doctor to doctor, nurse to nurse, nurse to doctor etc or is it reliable information to the community?
Lee Aase: It is actually all of the above. These tools do allow connections much more specific and granular and targeted to the right person and back and forth communications. The various social media platforms have different strengths and they need to be used together.
Norman Swan: So you’ve got the Center for Social Media at the Mayo Clinic, one of the world’s top hospitals, what are you doing?
Lee Aase: Well I’ll just tell you how we started with it and what led to it. My background was in traditional media relations which was all about telling stories about Mayo Clinic research and patients’ stories to the broader public to highlight research and expertise and the patient experience at the Mayo Clinic. as we started to apply these tools –
Norman Swan: A marketing tool.
Lee Aase: A marketing tool essentially, a public relations kind of tool. You know our model might be a little different in the United States where market share or getting more patients is part of how we get paid and so we said we can go directly to the consumers and patients instead of having to go through the intermediary of a journalist. We don’t have to wait for some external validation, if this is a good story we can tell it ourselves.
Norman Swan: So you bypass the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal?
Lee Aase: Right. Or actually the first use of it was to say we can help use these tools to tell the story to the journalists so that they understand it better. If I can show you on video instead, then that makes it much more compelling and so we were using these tools to do that media relations work more effectively.
Norman Swan: But that’s self interest.
Lee Aase: Yes you can say that, it’s about though spreading the word about research advances, especially around a rare condition where it’s difficult to get the broad –
Norman Swan: So give me an example.
Lee Aase: POTS, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. This is a condition that affects primarily teenage girls; something triggers in their nervous system and causes their heart to race when they go from laying down to standing up. Their heart races, the blood pools in the arms and legs, they feel achy, they feel like vomiting sometimes, maybe they do vomit, they feel fatigued and they go to their local doctor who says you’re just a teenager and you’re just under a lot of stress, there’s nothing wrong with you, maybe get counselling.
Dr Phil Fisher who’s a paediatric specialist at the Mayo Clinic did a podcast about POTS that we put on our podcast blog and it’s had more than 60,000 downloads, it’s actually the most popular podcast but it’s about this condition that a 1%-2% of the population kind of thing that’s hard to get a story in the mainstream media.
To hear the rest of this talk on the health sector and social media click here