Health Care and Social Media – Social Media Breakfast

Social Media Breakfast was very insightful again and brought together a panel representing interesting approaches to social media in health care.

@AlbertMaruggi posed a few questions and outlined a challenge of health care as an industry. As any industry health care can see a downside of transparency, but the upside is accountability, and ability to prevent negative events from happening. However, @AlbertMaruggi pointed to a gap that industry is facing: general public wants more and now, but evidence-based medicine does not consider this approach effective.

Larissa Rodriquez (HealthPartners and Regions Hospital)

HealthPartners sought differentiation and mascots became a very innovative and fun solution. Social media became a natural extension – mascots don’t talk… social media gave them a voice.

Mascots participated in over 200 events over last year; they allow consumers to experience the brand. Social media is not optional.  Important:

  • minimize the risk
  • maximize the value

The company is constantly evolving its approach and overcoming challenges:

  • experimentation
  • recognition of time commitment

Controlling your brand in social media is difficult, however,  Larissa is trying to avoid the first impulse to delete an uncomfortable comment and get the mascot to respond in a clever way.

What is next?  Figuring out how to connect social media to patient care (HIPAA sensitive issue).

How mascots help to promote company’s agenda? Mascots usually have marketing materials.

How the concept was sold internally? Leadership bought in from the beginning and employees were excited about a concept of making a specimen cup a mascot.

HealthPartners would like to be ahead of the other players in the industry and do spend time thinking about strategy.

Jesse Stremcha (Children’s Hospitals)

General recommendation on the social media policy – do not reinvent the wheel; adjust and adopt existing policies. Law lags behind the disruptive technologies.

Interesting example: patients’ communication with each other helps them to cope with the situation better using the experience of others. A physician can say that a child should not eat before the surgery and parents would not serve breakfast, but a tip of covering the food in the house would be very valuable for a parent. A two-year-old would not understand why he cannot eat.

One of the existing sites is Patients Like Me.

Online communication between a physician and a patient also complicated by the question where is doctor-patient relationship starts…

Cindy Fruitrail (Fairview)

@AlbertMaruggi started this part of the conversation by suggesting that “one way to implement social media is not to call it social media.”

All Fairview social media efforts are safely behind company’s firewall.  The problem was that “bright minds did not see each other.”  People were creating places “out there” to communicate, and company did not find it comfortable or productive. The “Facebook” at work was created behind firewall, where clinics could discuss real issues. The name of the tool is i-Connect. It was introduced in a soft launch to strategic areas, which would gain the most from collaboration. Fairview has 12,000 core staff, and 5,000 logged on to the system.

A question from the audience expressed a concern that most likely younger physicians use social networks. At that point the older gentlemen, a physician, who were on the panel, half-jokingly responded: “Look at me!”

Fairview i-Connect has limited tracking capabilities at this point and demographic data is not available.
Some clinics reduced their e-mail time.

Kent Bottles (ICSI) concentrated on disruptive technologies and recommended three books:

Here Comes Everybody – Suddenly everybody has access to professional technology allowing aggregation of people.  One of interesting example is Diabetes Mine – a blog of a person living with diabetes.

The Innovator’s Prescription – “Provocative staff” – what changes are needed and how everything in the industry is changing.

Free: The Future of a Radical Price – another good book to read for health care professionals.

Are doctors “don’t get it” or “get it and don’t like it”?

Kent gave another recommendation (what is common in the industry): don’t expect physicians to write a blog – interview them on camera and post. It could be simple and effective approach.

From another side, physicians do want to communicate online and use social networks; popularity of Sermo proved that physician networks can be very valuable.

Examples of disruptive technologies: a pediatrician eliminated her office an significant part of the overhead by moving her practice into her car. She visits patients in their homes and keeps records on her computer. Most of needed pediatric procedures can be done in patient’s home with minimal equipment.

This Social Media Breakfast was a treasure of interesting examples and also a fun event. Petey P. Cup himself stopped by… 😉

Social Media Breakfast

Social Media and Journalism – Social Media Breakfast

SMBMSPAnother excellent Social Media Breakfast  – the event  offered an insightful panel Facilitated by Julio Ojeda-Zapata ; the panel included Jason DeRusha, David Brauer, Gene Rebeck, Julia Schrenkler, and Dirk DeYoung.   

Twitter is a source of stories for journalists. Journalists are also using Twitter to form relationships with interesting people… what complicates criticizing these people in the future 😉  However, the end result is still higher quality material.  

Other channels were also mentioned, but Twitter was the most prominent during the discussion. My guess – the nature of journalism is “get the story first” and Twitter as “real time” news source and search possibility fills this need perfectly.  

People not connected with reporting start “committing acts of journalism” when they try to describe interesting events for others… because “people are curious.”  

Bridge collapse was the event often mentioned during the discussion – many journalists “discovered” power of social media at that point. Social media allowed journalists follow the “story” through the images and descriptions that were posted by non-journalists. 

What can be done with social media:

  • engage
  • crowd source (including listening, getting ideas, etc.)
  • promote

Do journalists have to be involved into social media? Not necessarily. If a person has an established following, sources, and network (does not need to engage, crowd source, or promote) social media may not bring enough benefit. However, anybody new to a particular market (geographic or vertical) can benefit from the opportunity.  “Any new journalist should be there.”

One of the panelists mentioned that social media is changing the business model and forcing design, marketing, and business closer together. This development is very interesting to watch…

Question: “Is using Twitter as news source similar to using Wikipedia as a research tool?”  

Answer: yes, the information can not be totally trusted, but both sources are excellent in identifying topics for further investigation. “Is it really different from an old ‘tip line’?”

Typical approach: posting a question to social media resources… waiting for answers… writing the story about the topic using the answers. (I personally watched this scenarios evolved several times and participated in some of them trying to answer the question.)

Monetization… The panel did not quite believe that social media presented monetization opportunity… However, the presentation below (thanks to Mashable article ) gives wonderful overview of social media ROI for a business (though not a publication).

The question about the future:

The news business model is not clear now. However, “somebody would always need to ‘dig the news’ for those who will pay for them.”

Whatever happens… Social media works… if it works, it will evolve.  We can not predict the future and the question “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” no longer makes sense. Not many companies will survive long enough, everything is constantly changing – we need to embrace the change.

“If this question was asked five years ago, nobody would be able to predict that we would be at Social Media Breakfast now… “  😉

Health Camp Minnesota

health-campHealth Camp Minnesota: “Health care – Technology – social Media. A conference created by and for health care delivery providers, and payers, and medical device producers in Minnesota.”  Video reviews.

Most interesting insights (from my perspective):


smugLee Aase (Manager of Syndications and Social media for the Mayo Clinic). 
Social Media University, Global

Lee mentioned that he was “navigating hierarchy and impacting innovation” at Mayo. He also made an interesting point: “you can be so strategic that you can not actually do anything, but it is still important to see the larger picture.”

  • Social media is the defining trend in communications in the 21st century
  • Social media will dramatically affect every industry
  • Health care organizations should engage with social media. Health care is not unique…

One curious point that I saw during Lee’s presentation was social media search for unique material that can be used online, rather than “planning and producing campaigns.”  In many cases, the company found an advocate and used the story or video rather than trying to “create” something. One satisfied patient found through social media was used later in print campaign.

Charming example: an old couple playing piano in the atrium of Mayo clinic. More than 4 million views on YouTube…

Blogging… difficult to get physicians to write. Easier: interviewing physicians on video. Video is used to pitch to journalists also. Important; getting flip cameras and training staff how to use them. How is legal reacting?  Mayo legal counsel is on Twitter…

How to deal with negativity: not that many negative comments – people on Facebook in particular rarely post something negative – they are using their own name and will not criticize without a good reason.

Mayo uses WordPress! 🙂

Sharing Mayo Clinic (blog for patients to share stories)  


Mayo clinic employees social media policies are easy to find.  

Mayo clinic presentation can be found at SMUG site.   

Panel I 

David Moen, MD, medical director of care model innovation, Fairview; Colleen McGuire, vice president-communications, IHC Health Solutions

Clinicians are less nervous about social media than PR, Marketing, and Legal… but physicians may not like the situation when a patient comes with a folder of collected information… However, this is a culture issue, not technology issue.

Health care challenge is to recognize the opportunity. Health care is a business… how would we pay physicians who use social media for their time? 

Who will pay for the online communities where patients can communicate?  But… if we can demonstrate lower costs and improved outcomes, maybe an interested party can be found…

Problem with public perception of health insurance companies. Only 7% of people “like” health insurance companies.

E-mail test:

  • Wellness e-mail sent from insurance company – little response
  • The same e-mail sent without identification that it was an insurance company – much higher response

(I heard about similar results from research done in the past by other insurance companies.) 

Interesting: Health Camp conferences discuss cost in US and access in Canada… and nobody is happy with their system….

Pannel II

John Reid, chief executive officer, AbbeyMoor Medical, Mary Halet, Regional Director  for the National Marrow Donor Program; Pat Kullmann, moderator, CEO, CG3 Consulting.

Prostatic stent promotion through a humorous YouTube video became an unexpected success for a small b-to-b company.

Star-TribuneThe video also lead to an article in Star Tribune

John Reid his earlier fears to become a joke of the industry, but the success of the video definitely worth the risk.

The original idea of the video was that young people would watch and forward to their uncles, etc. However, YouTube audience could be 45-55 years old (based on Mayo research).

Interesting: the company provides online training sessions (could not afford sales force) and physicians do sign up… even older physicians participate.

National Marrow Donor program employs 2 FTEs to listen and use social media; it is a ”deliberate” use of the channel.

iMobileHealthiMobile Health  provides access to patient-physician community via iPhone. The service is subscription based, but has a free trial.

 Panel III

Tamara Young, Ph. D.  – Health Scoop, Chris Boyer – Health Grades,  and Chris Bevolo  – moderator.

The question about negative reviews… Health Scoop receives 4:1 positive reviews.

Interesting note: a class of students joined the session. Students were not shy to ask questions, and one of the questions was built on applying Netflex functionality to some of the health care rating sites. The new generation (when they start using health care information online) seems to expect features and usability with which they are already familiar through consumer sites. 

health-Scoop      Health-grades

There are many sites grading physicians… the most important factor, however, is which content shows up on Google searches…

Very good event!  When is the next one?  🙂

Unsummit – Interactive Marketing Un-conference

unsummitMy first unsummit was very insightful. Though extensive audience participation is not typical, this type of events poses more questions than answers. The topic is perfect – nobody is an expert – we are all learning in real time and trying to catch up with interactive marketing universe. 

Interesting points:

Social media: it is important to have a strategy. What are you trying to communicate? Facebook is a tool, not a strategy. The decision “we should be involved into Facebook” can not be considered strategic.

The army experiment (not so good): One group decided to set up a Facebook page. However, the page did not have a following of fans (was not sufficiently promoted to fans) and attracted people who did not support the army. The Facebook page was used as an online “protest;” soon after the Facebook page went live the protest was organized outside of the unit’s building. The protesters most likely used the Facebook page to find each other and organize.  

Another army experiment (good): prospective recruits could ask questions through the website, and soldiers from different parts of the world answered these questions on the video. The video was posted on the site unedited. This approach increased the credibility of the organization.

Internal communication:

yammerCompanies are using private Facebook pages and Yammer. Medtronic encourages all new hires to sign up on Yammer during the orientation. Price Waterhouse discovered that Yammer helped people who work in different locations to communicate better and extended the practice to the whole company.

The “intranet” becomes more collaborative… the move is inevitable.

New tools

dropboxDrop Box  – a tool that allows saving large files on the cloud to be accessible from different computers.

setster  Setster – a free tool for adding appointment setting functionality to web sites and blogs. The consultant that recommended the tool noted that his clients are using the tool quite willingly.

todoist  Todoist  – a free tool for creating… to do lists in a quite sophisticated form.

xmind  XMind – a free team brainstorming and mind-mapping tool.

Social media reality check session tried to return the unsummit attendees back “to the real world,” where average person may not be as comfortable with the new tools and ideas as everybody in the room…

We should not try to set trends; we should utilize trends that already exist.

 The most popular tools of the future will be most likely “low friction” tools – the applications that are simple and easy to use.

One of the presenters was working on the real estate iPhone app that allows the person to enter his preferences for a house. When the person would be half a mile from any matching house on sale, the phone would ring and inform about the house on sale.

Personal information right now: the user goes to places (sites) that have his personal information. In the future, the personal information might be stored in the browser, and the sites would “react” to this personal information.

Minnov8  – a podcast done by a local group highlighting innovations of local companies in the interactive space.


The minnov8 group brought up an interesting point: in the past the definition of “genius” was an exceptionally gifted scientist making discoveries by himself. In the future, the definition of “genius” will change to the person who is able to synthesize ideas of many gifted scientists…

 “In the future, it is not what you know, it is what you share.”

danahboydRecommendation to review publications of Danah Boyd – Social Media Researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.


Development trends: attempts to transpose to mobile what already exist online. This approach does not make sense and can be compared to early paining of children in adult clothes (during the time when children were perceived just small adults).

Mobile is different – “it is not your website squished down.”

But, the question is: How can I get all that content to the mobile?  This question is similar to a more prosaic task: How do I feed a toddler nutritious food if he is not going to sit through a meal?  The answer: Snacks!! 🙂  

We need to “snakefy” mobile information for the user. Typical user is not viewing mobile content longer than 5 minutes.

ralphGood example or mobile applications is Ralph Lauren

fiercewirelessMobile resource: Fierce wireless.  The site has a free newsletter subscription and can be searched for verticals topic (health care, etc.) specifically. 

  • Prediction: Android devices are expected to outstrip the rest.
  • Most people do not read “long form” on a mobile devise; they bookmark something interesting to read later.
  • Completion of tasks on mobile devices now is less than 50% (usability issues across devices).
  • New term: m-commerce –  mobile commerce. 

Important: to fail fast and cheaply and learn from it (last session).

Unsuccessful examples:

A beer brand created a contest for schools which offered students to send a picture where they were “interacting with the brand.” The brand had a ranking of “party schools” and offered an ultimate prize – a trip to Cancun for a spring break. The problem: colleges and parents did not like it and the campaign had to be stopped. 😉

slurpee  Slerpee  created its own branded social network for enthusiasts. The probability that the people would join one more social network is less comparing to adding a possibility of interaction with the brand to the social networks that already exist. Definitely an expensive effort. Better approach would be a Facebook app or a simple Ning site. “Go where the people are…”

 More successful example:

Kreg-community Kreg tool company created a simple Ning community for people who use their tools. The community is active and can help its members to solve problems in the area of tools (what is important for the brand). This is definitely successful (and inexpensive) effort.

Twitter Guesses: Why Few Young People Use Twitter

twitter-tweetTwitter is somehow more attractive to older people. Twittering public is more likely to be 45-54 years old rather than 18-24 years old. Based on respectful research, this news was quickly recognized as a fact rather than a speculation: Teens Don’t Tweet; Twitter’s Growth Not Fueled By YouthWho’s Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not Teens .

Right after the data became known, we started guessing why Twitter is not patronized by young people: Why Teens Don’t Tweet, Why Adults Have Fed Twitter’s Growth.


One of the explanations was the timing of Twitter  – when Twitter became popular, teenagers already had other communication options. I tend to agree with Mahable’s suggestion  that Twitter is not serving main desire of an average teenager – to connect with friends. Twitter is more useful for following news topics, what has never been a focus of teenage life.


However, the most interesting question, I think, is our surprise that young people are not mesmerized by Twitter, and a need to explain this unexpected fact. Most likely, we are surprised because of our stereotypes, or previous experiences, or success formula lock-ins.

We seem to assume that young people are more likely to be using all new technologies. There is another assumption that young people are more knowledgeable about new technologies than older people. I believe this assumption is incorrect, even if I caught myself more than once thinking exactly the same.

My own “Twitter error” was quite embarrassing. A few months ago I heard about a new group in town – Social Media Breakfast .  I could not attend the meetings because of work, but when I finally had a chance… I felt uncomfortable… I was afraid to walk in the room of 20 year olds and feel as a lost grandmother… It was Social Media after all – a field for teenagers… However, my curiosity and interest for the field easily won over expected discomfort, and I showed up on the next event. To my surprise (and great relief!) the audience was full of people about my age. Yes, I saw young people, and I saw also older people; I saw some people I knew, I saw social media experts who were 10 years older than I, and I felt quite comfortable… Yes, I have not missed a single Social Media Breakfast since that first visit.

Why do we think that young people are more likely to adopt new technologies? 

Oh, yes, there is truth in this fact, but it is probably true very briefly, until the technology becomes known enough to attract its true users. These real users can benefit from the technology, rather then enjoy its brief novelty.

Henry Ford was fascinated by his mother’s sewing machine. My 22 year old male coworker in my native country was proudly using his family’s brand-new washing machine, fascinated by its sophistication. Do we really know many young men enjoying sewing or doing laundry?  Probably not…

More specific examples:
Thinking about any corporation – young people are not necessarily those who are PowerPoint experts or Excel experts. Young people do not know this software any better than the rest of us; however, those people who use this software for their work do, disregarding of age. Most of us probably come to that middle-age gentleman in finance with occasional Excel questions.

Twitter is just a tool; Twitter allows people to do certain thing and it will be the most appealing for people who like doing that “certain thing,” rather than just young people fascinated by novelty.

New social media platforms and technologies are spectacularly easy to use – we will probably see more tools adopted by a group of people with certain interests rather than age. I think it is wonderful; it is great for users, and very useful for marketers.

Social Media Breakfast at the Fair

Social-media-breakfastOK – I need to show up on the Social Media Breakfast with the device that allows participating in… social media 😉  We had quite interesting quiz, and I was right a few times!  Unfortunately, I could not twit the correct answer 😉  Next time… next time.

businesscard2One of the sponsors of the event introduced BusinessCard2  – an online form of a business card. I absolutely had to create my card , however, I am not sure how this new product would compete with LinkedIn, that already has most of the same information.

It is interesting to watch new web sites for creating business cards, online resumes, and online portfolios… My guess: LinkedIn smartly integrates other social networks (SlideShare, Blogs, documents, etc.) and can function as a “primary” resume/business card online. However, new, niche applications will probably continue to appear.

 Social-media-breakfast-mashAnother interesting note: though most professional job seekers are online, there is a difference between the places where specific demographic tend to look for a job. Younger demographic is more likely to start from Facebook – a more familiar social network than LinkedIn.

Though this event was fun and very appropriate for the Fair, I hope to see more traditional presentations or panels in the future.

World Wide Rave

World-Wide-RaveI was lucky to attend a webinar some time ago, where the author introduced the book. The webinar was very interesting and the book exceeded my expectations (even after reading other works of the author). The most inspiring part of the book, I think, is the wealth of examples from different industries, different target audiences, and unique approaches. These examples encourage the reader to think what can be done for the reader’s business… 

My notes from the book: 

World Wide Rave – positive reaction to something related to the company or its product
World Wide Rant – negative reaction to something related to the company or its product

6 Rules of Rave

  1. webinkinowNobody cares about your product(except you). Do not simply promote products – create something interesting that will spark a conversation online.
  2. No coercion required. If you create something worth sharing, people will share it.
  3. Lose control.Valuable online information should be free and easy to share.
  4. Put down roots.If you want your ideas to spread, you need to be involved in the online communities of people who actively share.
  5. Create triggers that encourage people to share. The success of certain content is impossible to predict – create enough “possibilities” for the World Wide Rave – think as venture capitalist
  6. Point the world to your (virtual) doorstep.Producing interesting content is better approach to SEO than technically optimizing site with boring content.

Other recommendations:

What slightly subversive (but not illegal or unethical) strategies, like encouraging people to use their mobile phones in a place where it is not normally allowed, can you use to trigger a World wide Rave? 

Never talk about your products and services again. Instead, focus on your buyer personas and how you can solve problems for them.

How can you push the envelope of what’s tried and true in your market?  The sex angle certainly isn’t for everyone, but are there other subjects you could incorporate in your efforts that others are too scared to talk about? 

You’ve got to think in terms of spreading ideas, not generating leads. A World wide Rave gets the world out to thousands or even millions of potential customers. But only if you make your content easy to find and consume.

Every company has something fascinating or unique or funny that can be turned into a video that people will want to share. You do, too. What’s that one thing that everyone who knows you comments about?  Build you video efforts around that.

Facebook applications are all about providing an interesting way for friends to connect and share valuable information. Your business probably lends itself to a entertaining or useful application, too.

Create a team and a process in advance and get internal preapprovals in place so that when a new trend breaks, you can respond very quickly. If you work for a nimble organization, and instant response to something in the news, a reaction to a change in regulations, or a clever piggyback off somebody else’s World wide Rave can be both fun and rewarding.

What proprietary data and metrics do you have that would be valuable to others? Publish them an offer them for free to generate a World Wide Rave.

Take a look at your site and find a link you can flip around. Measure the traffic before and after the switch and see which version works better. Perhaps your site includes a headline like this: “How to increase productivity and drive revenue.” Yawn. How many times have we all read something like that? How about this: “How to destabilize productivity, deter customers, and diminish revenue.” Now that’s likely to get some attention!

Great book!! Highly recommend!!  My guess it is already required in some university… 😉