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Mayo Clinic Executive: Social media not an option, but a requirement

Dr. Farris Timimi (@FarrisTimimi), Medical Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, told the audience at the World Health Care Congress that social media is not an option today, it’s a requirement.Mayo-clinic-logo social media Timimi, as reported by Brendon Nafziger of DOTmed News, said hospitals must turn to social media, both to help advertise their services and to help further research on rare diseases.

…[A] woman in her 20s who suffered from debilitating wrist pain for half a decade, was inspired to visit Mayo’s Minnesota hospital after participating in a Twitter chat with Dr. Richard Berger, the developer of a technique for finding and fixing ulnotriquetral ligament tears. The chat took place in a widget running alongside an online USA Today story about Jayson Werth, a baseball player who underwent Berger’s treatment at Mayo after a 2005 injury nearly derailed his career. (Werth, now doing fine, recently signed a $126 million, seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals, Timimi said.) We had Dick Berger available to chat, to meet the consumers where they’re at. Without Twitter…[it] wouldn’t have happened.

It was social media that got the Werth story out to the world in the first place. Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Center helped promote the story, which eventually got picked up by a local news channel and newspaper, as well as USA Today, by posting a dugout interview filmed with a flip camera on YouTube. Connecting healthcare providers and consumers isn’t the only use of social media in medicine.

Timimi …believes it can help further rare disease research, in part by helping to recruit patients — always a challenge with uncommon ailments. Timimi gave the example of Katherine Leon, a woman diagnosed with spontaneous coronary artery dissection, or SCAD, in her late 30s. In this rare and sometimes deadly condition, which usually affects women, a tear in the inner layers of the coronary arteries can block blood flow, resulting in a heart attack. After being diagnosed with SCAD, Leon teamed up with another woman and helped convince Mayo cardiologist Dr. Sharonne Hayes to run a study on it. Using their online communities, in March 2010, they recruited patients for a pilot study — within the first week of trying, the women recruited 18 people, six more than they needed for the 12-person study, according to Mayo. Over the next six months, records from women around the world helped build up a SCAD databank.

The law is much the same as medicine when it comes to social media. Lawyers and law firms have the ability to connect with clients and prospective clients in a real and meangful way through social media. We also have the ability to connect and collaborate through social media so as to advance legal causes and advance the law for that matter. I’m in agreement with Timimi. “Social media is the right thing to do, it’s not a marketing strategy.”