July 29th, 2010
04:36 PM ET

Mayo Clinic starts social media center

Social media tools aren't just about sharing links or chatting with friends; they can also be a valuable tool in health care. Hospitals are starting to harness that potential to better assist patients in making informed choices, and doctors in connecting with patients.

To that end, the Mayo Clinic has created the Center for Social Media, an initiative aimed at both health care professionals and patients.

Some of the services of the center include training for health care employees, consulting and coaching for organizations that want to engage in social media activities, information resources, and conferences and other events.

In September, Mayo Clinic will announce more details of a social media network to engage other members of the health care community. This will be a "learning network" of organizations dedicated to making social media helpful for patients, said Dr. Victor Montori, endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, who helped launch the social media efforts.

The center builds on the initiatives that Mayo Clinic has already taken in the social media world. The clinic has a popular  YouTube channel and thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook. It also has 12 different blogs that focus on topics such as cancer, pregnancy, and safe sex.

Through these various channels, the public can learn about health issues, new research on specific diseases, and find out about doctors at the Mayo Clinic, which also provides reference material for CNNHealth.com. One patient came in for surgery after seeing a blog post about a wrist injury similar to her own, as described here.

For many people, debates surrounding health care have been about government, corruption, and information being hidden, giving the impression that health care is not about the patient anymore, Montori said.

"One of the areas where patients can actually actively pursue bringing health care back, so that it will be about them again, is in spaces where they’re able to express this, demand this, and do this in ways that are very effective," he said. "I think social media is one of those spaces."

Read more about how technology can help personal health

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Jim

    I'm confused. The philosophy, mission, and vision they have on their site sounds very patient centric... yet most of the information there so far seems to be targeted only toward their own employees and staff. Maybe it's just too early yet. Why do I care if their staff are "In the Loop"??

    July 29, 2010 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      I found their YouTube channel to have some very helpful info on diabetes. Not sure which site you were referring to, but that one is pretty good.

      July 30, 2010 at 00:58 | Report abuse |
  2. Victor Montori

    Dear JIm
    I think your confusion is totally legitimate. The site for the center is very young (was launched this week!) but Mayo offers for patients in social media are many. Let me invite you to explore, for example, our youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/mayoclinic or our blog http://sharing.mayoclinic.org/ Also you can search twitter #mayoclinic or follow @mayoclinic there. Or friend us and leave comments on our facebook page. Thanks and take care,
    Victor Montori, MD

    July 29, 2010 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Reply

    Is it possible that corn allergies lead to diabetic symptoms (frequent urination in small amounts)? Inflammation?

    Is it possible that (undiagnosed) infections (such as yeast or strep) can keep your blood sugar too high?

    July 30, 2010 at 00:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reply

      I tested positive for a corn allergy, but the test wasn't nearly as bad as what I seem to get in real life. I wondered why that would be true. Is it the difference between corn and genetically modified corn? (Assuming the test was for non-GMO corn.)

      July 30, 2010 at 19:50 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      Corn is inflammatory and it's in just about everything. Watch the documentary (Netflix documentary section), Korn King, The Future of Food, Food, Inc., Our Daily Bread, food is largely made up of corn in this country. Is T2 diabetes related to corn allergies? I lose classic diabetic symptoms (frequent urination in small amounts) when I stop eating grain for about three days. My blood pressure drops to perfect normal when I stay away from grain also.

      July 30, 2010 at 20:06 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      My blood pressure dropped to perfect normal (better than I have seen since high school) when I stopped eating grain. Do you see the connection? Inflammation. Allergy route. Corn.

      August 2, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      I stop urinating in frequent small amounts when I stop eating grain (hard to isolate, but corn sweeteners are horrible).

      August 2, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      It takes about three days of no corn to see the difference. I can pee forever when I don't eat corn. I can count to a hundred. It's in everything. (Go to cornallergens.com to see all of the derivatives of corn.)

      August 2, 2010 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      Yes, you still have to exercise. But, at least you have half a chance that it will work if you can get rid of the infections and stop eating grain.

      August 2, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      I bet that's why I needed a little bit of salt...to deal with the fluid (inflammation) from allergies.

      August 2, 2010 at 15:46 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      I'm sure there are lots of allergies. Chicken/eggs, corn, wheat, chocolate, whatever...but if you can't even get your doctor to send you to be checked even after the dietitian points you in that direction...that says something. They don't get it.

      August 2, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
  4. Reply

    What effects do xenoestrogens have on our bodies? We are bombarded with BPA, phthalates, PVC, all kinds of toxic chemicals. One minute they are telling us to take estrogen and the next they are telling us that our tumor was estrogen fed. Why should we trust these people?

    July 30, 2010 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reply

      Why do they give us all of the crappy drugs and inferior products before they give us the ones that work? Is that an insurance thing? How do we get rid of that?

      July 30, 2010 at 01:12 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      Why doesn't the medical profession chase down the root cause rather than just make new drugs to deal with this stuff? Then we have to take more drugs to deal with those drugs until we have shoeboxes full of drugs. But, nobody tells you anything about the root cause so we can eliminate it and get it out of our system. (This has gone on for so long that this stuff is in everything...corn is in just about everything, BPA, PVC...in our food, water, medical supplies. And nobody has great studies on this? How is that??? HELL YES, we are complaining that it's corrupt.)

      July 30, 2010 at 01:18 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      There's a picture on page 328 of the book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, that shows a picture of the molecular structures of endogenous estrogen and bisphenol-A. They both have an HO and OH on the end. The center is different and some people think that's why it forms a lump. They have been using this stuff longer than I have been alive. (It's inside the lids of canning jars. And the extension service says that's the only approved product for canning. Rules like that sway the world to one product. Good for them...not so good for us maybe.) WHY isn't there more research on the product that is in just about every packaging material we have??? Ever notice the age of the people in radiation these days? They are very young. not just breast cancer, but testicular also. WHERE ARE THE RESEARCH DOLLARS? WHO IS ON MY SIDE? nobody.

      August 2, 2010 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      Are tumors estrogen fed, or xenoestrogen fed? or both. Where is the research? They aren't answering the right questions. What good is that? Some people say our estrogens are raised by eating animal proteins. Which is it? Where are these tumors coming from? (Both breast and testicular cancers.)

      August 2, 2010 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      How are we going to wipe this stuff off the planet if they aren't even asking the right questions? Are they even trying? Or do they make so much money watching people go down these paths that they don't even try? Who is on our side?

      August 2, 2010 at 15:50 | Report abuse |
  5. Jim

    Bill: I was referring to their actual "Center for Social Media" site (it's a link in the 2nd paragraph). I may be misunderstanding the purpose of that site though. It just seems very employee/staff-focused (so far).

    July 30, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Reply

    Are they going to tell the truth or just more half-baked, watered down information that doesn't really help anyone anyway? I never found much useful information at Mayo. A little bit if it was very general, but I had to look elsewhere to get anything that actually helped.

    July 30, 2010 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reply

      I had good luck with Mayo about 30 years ago. They saved my son's life there and I will be forever grateful. But, I didn't have that luck a couple of years ago. More like they stood in my way every step of the way. Made it impossible for me to get well. Like the system was totally set up for me to fail. I know Victor works hard to make this a better place and I believe he works for the actual patient. There was lots of room for improvement when I was there. This might be one. Can't tell yet. Personally, I hope I never have to go back and would seriously consider death over ever having to go back. It might help someone else though.

      July 30, 2010 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
  7. Reply

    Agree...I would say that the only hope we have is through social media...mostly to bypass the lousy system that we have now.

    July 30, 2010 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Amber

    I think this is a great idea! I was diagnosed with a rare disorder at Mayo 2 1/2 years ago and this would've been very helpful. Instead I searched for people like me all over the net without results until just this year. Mayo is an innovative all around the board...

    July 31, 2010 at 02:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Reply

    Why is the testing so bad?

    The mammogram missed my tumor altogether. Not operator error...we put the lump right in there and it missed it. Not sure why those should be given every year or so. Ultrasound maybe.

    Why did they tell me to take estrogen to prevent cancer and then tell me later that my tumor was estrogen fed?

    I couldn't get several doctors to even test for strep. I kept complaining of sore throat. My dentist actually treated it. The doctors totally missed it. Two of them wouldn't even test for it. (The concept that an infection will mess up your blood sugar flies right over their head. Evidently not in their training. That doctor completely denies it. So did the next one. So...you know there's a hole in their training...it repeated across at least three doctors.)

    PCR missed strep infections several times. I got tested for yeast and strep in other hospitals and they did catch it first time. Drove out the door of one and into the other and they caught it in the second hospital with no hassle whatsoever. Doubled my doctor bills to have to go both places though.

    The drugs they gave me from Mayo were ineffective. The ones that I got from a local pharmacy worked (one was marked that it was from India and the other from Pakistan). Efficacy problems.

    Mayo did catch a corn allergy, but I had to walk out on my primary in order to get help (primary wouldn't refer me to Allergy even after the dietitian told me to ask her to get tested for food allergies – I was polite, but they were jerks).

    Maybe when you get the cancer diagnosis, you just fall into the no care category. They tried to sell me a silicone breast over a normal saline breast. Which would you rather have break inside of you?

    I bet I told a dozen people on the way into surgery that I was allergic to monocryl stitches. They won't heal. I got monocryl anyway. Had to have them removed. Got an infection. Plus, I should have had a drain, but they didn't put one in. So that prolonged the whole mess.

    Same with getting glasses. I had to go back about six times.

    They told me they were going to radiate a corner of my lung, but ended up doing the whole thing. I don't think I even needed radiation for the type of tumor that I had, but they told me that it was the rule. My health has deteriorated ever since. They told me that tumor was estrogen fed, but nothing else. Nothing about where anything comes from so you can prevent it, they just give you pills...a whole shopping bag full of pills. My liver has hurt ever since they told me to take Lipitor.

    This isn't even all of it. They didn't have any therapists trained for PTSD when I asked for help. The first therapist laughed at me. Poor quality information every step of the way. Plus, my friend's dad died there because he fell in the bathroom.

    Not sure if social media can help. Good luck.

    August 2, 2010 at 03:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reply

      I bet those liners for the breast implants were made out of PVC (like lots of other medical supplies). It's not that good for us. I already knew that I was highly allergic to PVC.

      August 2, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  10. Reply

    There's no way in h3LL that I can control blood sugar with a yeast infection (or strep it seems). (Does the yeast come from antibiotics? Kills the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria and leaves the yeast to grow? basically unchecked...not just women. men too. They look vaginally and think OTC drugs work. They aren't getting us where we need to be. We need someone that can actually get rid of the yeast without killing us. Diflucan works for a while, but the minute I started eating grain I got them back again. Not sure what the connection is there. Can get it back from spouse also. Pass it back and forth maybe. Or maybe it just comes back by itself because it isn't completely gone. But, it does work for a while. I could have rode my bike across CO with a yeast infection and my blood sugar wouldn't budge. Same with a strep infection. Once they get rid of them I can control my blood sugar walking to the milk section of the grocery store. I'm thinking the infection just keeps my blood sugar too high and anything that I eat makes it worse. My body sends insulin to deal with it. Insulin loves to store fat and hates to let go of fat...so it's very hard to lose weight with an infection.) The doctors miss it. Not sure if it's by plan or if its just not in their training. Not sure why. Maybe they can't really get rid of it without killing us. If that's true...put the money there. We need real answers. Let's wipe this disease off the planet. It has no business here.

    August 2, 2010 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reply

      There might be two different pathways involved there. I definitely get symptoms from corn (allergy route, but appears to affect blood ***pressure***). And I definitely get symptoms from low flying (no fever of 102) infections such as yeast and/or strep. I think that's a different route. Maybe that's why they don't see it. I have no clue, but it's annoying and getting help is impossible. Not sure if that's by design or if they simply aren't where they need to be yet. Maybe they know and can't deal with something as large as corn producers. We live in the middle of corn country. Let's get it out of our food supply and into the energy bucket or something. Where does the allergy part come from? Are we just exposed to too much? and eventually get sick from it? LOOK at the cornallergens.com website. Look at the derivatives page. (Watch the documentaries on how corn makes animals sick. They seem to like to take that route when they don't want to tell us that it harms us also.) Tired of the lies.

      August 2, 2010 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      Infections such as yeast or strep (often undiagnosed because they don't throw a fever of 102 degrees or symptoms that jump out at people) mess up your blood ***sugar****. I will spell that out. Corn seems to bother blood ***pressure*** (inflammation...then think about inflammation in heart attacks and tissue damage. small vessels.).

      Not linear. Perhaps not obvious. But, it's there.

      August 2, 2010 at 14:28 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      Why would doctors miss something so obvious? How much of medical school is influenced by pharmaceutical companies? What happens when they get our medical records online? Are the drug companies going to infiltrate that also? How do we know they won't just keep us sick forever dying a slow death so they can roll in the dough every step of the way? Who is on our side? (Read the book, Selling Sickness.)

      August 2, 2010 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      I'm wondering if doctors could help us if they wanted to. Or are they making the rules so tight for them that they can't even look at what we actually need. There was a huge force there preventing me from getting the help I needed. Why? Maybe they don't want us to get better. Maybe they make so much money from us being sick that they don't want us to know anything useful.

      August 2, 2010 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      If they know something we don't, why aren't they telling us? Maybe they don't know. But, how could you watch people go down this path for 40 years and not have a clue? The testing is totally off.

      August 2, 2010 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      They said it might make me mad if I knew. YEAH...I'm mad. They would have let me be sick forever.

      August 2, 2010 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      Maybe they can't fix it because the problem doesn't belong to them. (Probably belongs to the Farm Bill.) So, they just kept making drugs to deal with it and then more drugs to deal with those drugs. THAT's dumb. Why don't they just call it. Like tobacco. It's not that great for us. We inherited a mess. Doesn't mean we should just go with that. It means we have to change.

      August 2, 2010 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
    • Reply

      It really was consistent that I appeared to get rid of the yeast infections (diflucan), but they came back when I ate grain. Is there a mold or fungus on the grain? I could keep it out of there if I totally stayed away from grain. (That's hard. Especially when you don't understand it...nobody tells you that's the problem...you are just shooting in the dark. But, it was consistent.)

      August 2, 2010 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
  11. Reply

    Why doesn't research put money on our side? Why so much on drugs and not so much on prevention? Whose side is the doctor on? Whose side is the hospital on? Whose side is the insurance company on? Who is on our side?

    August 2, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reply

      Social media? that's great, but we still need doctors on our side. Seriously have to question these journals. They don't appear to be answering questions that matter to us. But, maybe they wouldn't.

      Even if doctors were on our side, would they be able to help us in a system that is designed to stand in our way every step of he way? Doesn't seem like it. Maybe many years ago. Looks corrupt now.

      August 2, 2010 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
  12. Reply

    Their goal doesn't appear to be to wipe this stuff off the planet. We have been watching people go down the same path for 40+ years now. We're pretty smart. We should be able to figure this out.

    August 2, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reply

      They make too much money watching people go down this path. Why would they stop it? We need the money aligned more correctly to get the results that we want. This is a crock.

      August 2, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
  13. Reply

    Who protects us? It evidently isn't the FDA. (Is it even in their charge?) Empowered patient? ya, right. I couldn't get my doctors to help me to save my soul. I had to hit it sideways with whatever doctor I could find...usually at different hospitals and clinics. It's empowerment, but wow...you really have to work hard at trying to get well in this system. Quite frankly. for most people, i doubt it can even happen.

    August 2, 2010 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Reply

    Could they even tell you the truth if they knew it?

    August 2, 2010 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
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