by Kari Skipper Foster
The Mayo Ragan Third Annual Social Media Summit left my head spinning with information and possibilities. It’s easy to forget how helpful it can be to attend meetings and conferences, given busy schedules, tight budgets and the sheer joy of airplane travel, but this was time, money and energy very well spent. Attendance to the next conference should be given your serious consideration if you work or want to work in healthcare social media.
Day 3 began with author Justina Chen presenting on storytelling. She offered examples of how storytelling aids learning and remembering information. Good stuff to keep in mind as we seek to educate our communities about our organizations and their health.
- Know your organization’s Soul Keeper. Who is that person that truly embodies the mission of your organization? You two should be friends. Remember, they may or may not be on your payroll. Certainly one would hope that employees would be at the top of the list, but you may also have a dedicated volunteer or two who’s been around a while. Rather makes sense that they’d be all about your mission if they’re volunteering their time, doesn’t it?
- Know your lawyers. Don’t be afraid to check in with them from time to time. Once they get to know you and really understand that you’re not trying to give away the keys to the store via a Twitter auction, you could find a great ally.
- Ask for an interview. Need to meet with someone to pick their brain? Don’t ask for a meeting, ask for an interview. It feels much more important to be interviewed! When you finish, ask them for three people they’d recommend you talk to about the subject.
- Remember that your story and the REAL story may be different. Be open to what you learn as you begin to research and interview. This could uncover some cool things you never thought about.
Next up was Bill Kennedy from Jamestown Hospital in North Dakota who offered tips on stretching your resources to reach your social media goals.
Some of his points:
- Know your system. It makes perfect sense, and yet it’s easily overlooked. I spoke with one colleague this week who noted that he works in an office building away from his hospital. This could make it easier for him to lose sight of the real purpose. He makes a concerted effort to stay connected. Try taking some time to sit in the lobby of your hospital every once in a while.
- Balance in all things – including marketing. Develop a balance between social and traditional media. Right now, for his organization the balance is 30% social and 70% traditional. These numbers can change as the need arises. With all the exciting things happening in social media, it’s easy to forget that traditional media can still be useful.
- Chart your results. As we heard several times throughout the conference, chart your ROI! How in the world can you make any progress if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not?
Then to close the conference, we heard from everyone’s favorite fighter, ePatientDave, aka Dave De Bronkart, about how e-patients and social media are transforming health care.
This keynote was introduced by Mayo Clinic’s President and CEO John Noseworthy. He pointed out that the Mayo brothers knew from the beginning how important communication and networking were to medicine and traveled the globe to teach and learn. They “felt an obligation to advance the science.” Wow. An obligation.
Next we met ePatientDave who was diagnosed in 2007 with kidney cancer at a very late stage. It had metastasized to both lungs, several bones and muscle tissue. People in his position were given a median survival time of 24 weeks.
Dave shared with us his journey through the diagnosis as a husband, father and son. He helped us understand how such a diagnosis changes your entire thought process, makes you question every twitch or ache in your body, and leaves you worried and sad for your family and friends. Then he told us what he did about it.
His doctor told him about a website where Dave found information on the best treatment to pursue, the names and numbers of specialists in his region, and what the side effects of the treatments would be, all from the people who knew best – other patients. To quote Dave, (as tweeted by @ahynes) “The people formerly known as consumers are now producing value in health care.” And they don’t cost anything. They’re positively affecting health care and it doesn’t cost us a dime.
Dave also pointed out that epatients are not anti-science. The opposite is actually true. The epatients I’ve had the honor to know or meet were all about the science. But as Dave noted, the average lag time for physicians reading journal articles is 2 to 5 YEARS. Who can blame them? With thousands of journal articles submitted daily, all the patients we heard from this week agreed that physicians cant’ know everything. That’s why they want to help. They want the data, they want a voice. They want to help themselves, one another and health care.
By the way, the “e” in the term “epatient” means Equipped, Engaged, Empowered, and Enabled. We are all past, present or future patients. Dave and others like him show us that the time for “e” is now.