#MayoRagan Pre-Conference Thoughts

Yesterday morning, I checked the #MayoRagan hashtag on Twitter to see that @jamiesundsbak had checked in on Foursquare at Starbucks. (This morning, he's at Caribou Coffee). We've been communicating a bit online and I've been looking forward to meeting him. Unfortunately, by the time I had finished my morning tasks, he had already moved on. Fortunately, however, @drmikesevilla had checked in. I hadn't met Mike before, but I picked him out at Starbucks, sat down and had a great conversation.

This goes to one of my favorite talking points about social media. One of the old criticisms of social media is, why don't people actually meet face to face, instead of having to communicate online all the time. Social Media is a gateway drug to face to face communications. It is a great way to jump start a conversation and a friendship.

After checking in at the conference and meeting with my boss, I returned to my room to plan for the day and get a little more done online. The next big event was the tour of the Mayo Clinic. This tour deserves a blog post of its own, but since I'll probably not have as much time to write as I would like, I'll put in some thoughts here, and not feel so bad if I don't get a chance to come back to a more complete description of the tour.

The first thing that was pointed out to me in the tour of the Mayo clinic was art. Art is everywhere, from the piano in the lobby, to sculptures and paintings everywhere. It was great to see art as an important part of the healing process. This was followed by a visit to the Center for the Spirit. Our religious beliefs are an important part of our healing journey, and it was great to see the Center for the Spirit in such a prominent role.

The tour proceeded past patient intake to the labs. The tour guide mentioned that two FedEx planes arrive at Mayo each day with specimens to be tested. Patients checking in typically get their blood work done as part of intake and have results by the time they meet with their doctors.

The next key focus was history. It is communicated strongly to all employees as part of establishing shared values. This was set in contrast to innovation. Mayo prides itself for its innovations, but those innovations come out of the shared values. As an aside, when I later mentioned the historical aspects, one Mayo employee rolled his eyes. Apparently there is some 1986 book on the history of the Mayo clinic that employees are expected to spend a lot of time with.

Mayo clinic provides consulting to other health organizations, but some what makes Mayo clinic so successful are things that may be difficult for other organizations to emulate. For example, it is an physician led organization and even the CEO still sees patients. I can only wonder what other health care organizations across our country would be like if they were led by physicians. There can be down sides to this, such as a slower decision making process, but it seems to really help keep the organization centered on the patient.

Related to this, the tour guide mentioned that the average doctor at Mayo clinic sees seven patients a day. There were gasps from the members of the tour as people pondered what that would mean for their organizations. There were discussions about how many patients the average doctors in their organizations saw, and the guess was probably in the fifteen to twenty range.

Since physicians are not compensated by the number of patients they see, they are also not compensated by the number of tests they run, and as a result, Mayo Clinic ends up running fewer tests. The tour continued through the Center for Innovation and Patient Education.

When the tour was over, we all rushed back to the afternoon session. I sat in on 'Engaging Physicians in Social Media'. It was a panel of four doctors talking about their experiences in social media. @EndoGoddess really ran away with the show, and according to #MayoRagan analytics was the most mentioned Twitter personality yesterday.

During the discussion, it was asked about how to make time for social media. Should doctors be given an incentive to be on social media? All of the panelists had a passion to be on social media and did not receive time or monetary incentives. People argued that you won't get the same level of passion from someone who is paid to be on social media. I was surprised that members of communications departments didn't object to this assertion. I certainly do.

Later, I was speaking with @MeredithGould. Meredith is a great writer driven by a passion to write. As we talked about it, it seemed like the real question is, how do you find and nurture the passion to write? How do you empower doctors to be good writers? When should you have a person who loves writing write for a doctor?

In the evening, I finally got a chance to meet @jamiesundsbak as well as @jsperber, two people that I've really enjoyed communicating with online and am glad to have finally met face to face.

All of this has provided a great setting of the stage for The Third Annual Health Care Social Media Summit at the Mayo Clinic. Let's see what today brings.