September 14, 2010

A Patient’s Perspective on Social Media


When we announced formation of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media in late July, Scott Johnson was among those who wrote to express their support. As a patient with Type 1 diabetes who has been blogging since 2004, Scott has a well-developed view of the value of social media. Yesterday he wrote a post about the center on his blog. Here's an excerpt:

Social media gives me access to a world of people living with type 1 diabetes, just like me. Any hour of the day or night I can tune in to discussions on Twitter or Facebook, I can read thousands of blog posts written by people from all walks of life, all living with type 1 diabetes, and I can find YouTube videos that make me laugh and cry. I can find connections. I can find people who understand exactly what I'm going through. These people and their stories become an emotional lifeline. Suddenly I don't feel so alone or isolated. In fact I often feel inspired and empowered by what I've seen.

Social media has helped me be a healthier person by showing me real-life examples of others living with diabetes. Unfiltered and unafraid, these people are sharing their stories. I hear first hand about situations they have experienced, and I can share in their successes and challenges.


The Mayo Clinic recently launched a Social Media Center to teach and train other health care organizations on using social media. Beyond just setting an example for organizations to follow, the Mayo Clinic is encouraging and teaching these organizations to jump in with both feet.

Instead of fearing and ignoring the Internet, the Mayo Clinic embraces the communication that social media enables. That is exactly what we want. We want communication, a chance to share our story, and a channel to provide feedback on what works and what doesn't. We want to get to know the people behind the corporate curtain. We want to learn more about the dedicated people working to help us live better. We want to know that we are not alone out here.

As a patient living with chronic illness, social media has become a part of my health care regime, and something I've come to need as part of my survival toolkit.

I am excited to see that The Mayo Clinic has recognized the importance of social media as a means to connect with and provide additional support to patients. I believe the center will be wildly successful, and I hope to see other healthcare organizations make use of this resource to get involved with social media the right way.

Check out the full post on Scott's Diabetes Journal.

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