Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Social Media

July 16th, 2012

From resident to fellow…in social media.

By Makala Arce MakalaArce

Social media can be a scary, intimidating thing. The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media offers hands-on, rigorous training sessions to those who would like to apply social media to their work and make it a little less scary. Anyone can attend, including Mayo Clinic employees and volunteers, but also external professionals.

I attended the Social Media Residency as part of my Public Affairs internship at Mayo Clinic. In this role, I am involved in a variety of areas, but mostly internal communications. I create communication pieces about topics including employee achievements, patient stories, research, and keeping employees informed and aware of things happening at Mayo Clinic. In several of these roles, internal social media is considered, allowing me to create communication plans centered around these tools. I chose to attend the residency not only to hone my skills for my current job, but to make myself a more marketable candidate for future employment; social media matters, and more and more employers are looking for professionals well-versed in it.

I participated in the Social Media Residency at the Rochester campus on June 25 and 26. The two-day residency guided us through the use of many social media tools including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yammer, Pinterest, WordPress and YouTube. A social media expert presented each tool in depth, and we were then asked to discuss how we could apply each tool to our work areas. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Center for Social Media, intern, Katie Streater, residency, social media

February 27th, 2012

Mayo Clinic Piano “Rock Star” Celebrates 93rd Birthday

By Lee Aase, Director, Mayo Clinic Social Media Network LeeAase

Marlow Cowan with cake

When I first met Marlow and Frances Cowan nearly three years ago, I recall Mr. Cowan joking, "At our age, we don't buy any green bananas." So it was especially neat for our Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media staff to help him celebrate his 93rd birthday this month.

You may remember the Cowans as the couple whose impromptu piano duet at Mayo Clinic went viral, having reached more than 8 million viewers on YouTube.

The story began in Sept. 2008 when the Cowans were in Rochester, and their piano duet in the atrium of our Gonda Building was captured by another patient and her daughter and posted to YouTube. Six months later we saw the video, which had been viewed about 1,000 times, and embedded it here on Sharing Mayo Clinic.

Then it really took off. Within just a few weeks their video was viewed more than a million times on YouTube and the Cowans had been featured in The Des Moines Register, and two weeks after that they were flown to New York for a live in-studio gig on Good Morning America.

In February 2010 they returned to Rochester for some appointments, and asked if we would want to schedule a little concert. That led to a big story on KARE TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul, as well as a segment on national television in Japan.

With one more return visit last October, we arranged for the Cowans to play what they say will be their last full-blown public concert, in connection with our Social Media Summit and member meeting of the Social Media Health Network. We called it "A Concert for the Ages" and you can see it for yourself.

Mr. Cowan had mentioned that night that he would like to get all the video footage of from this journey put together as a keepsake for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. So we conspired with his daughter, DeDe Shour, to surprise him at his 93rd birthday celebration with a package of DVDs to share with his family.

Thanks to Joel Streed from our Center for Social Media staff for producing the DVDs, and to DeDe and her husband, Mark, who took these pictures of the Feb. 19 celebration and our surprise gift. See the slideshow of the photos:

Please join us in wishing Marlow and Frances Cowan many more years of perfectly ripened bananas! Share your comments and greetings below, and we'll pass them along.

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Tags: Frances Cowan, Marlow Cowan, Piano duet

May 19th, 2011

“Quintessential Medical Experience of my Life”

By Makala Arce MakalaArce

Rev. Walter and his daughter, Kimberly, express the profound impressions they have of Mayo Clinic after experiencing it for one week. Their genuine words are truly remarkable.

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Tags: experience, Kimberly, Matthew Clark PhD, medical, patient, Quintessential, Rev. Walter

April 20th, 2011

#KatieRide for Life with a Camera

By jasonpratt jasonpratt

“You’re going to love this ride! The scenery is so amazing, you’ll wish you had a camera.” So after hearing that response from two of my friends as I told them I was riding in The Katie Ride for Life...I thought to myself, “Well, why not?” Thinking it would be so cool to share the sights of the day’s event from a riders point of view with people that aren’t able to be out there riding or maybe with ones that would like to consider doing it next year.

[Check out the photo gallery and video at the bottom of this post]

So Saturday morning, April 16th, I’m sitting on my mountain bike (yes, a mountain bike) among the cyclists of our 160-member Mayo Clinic Team awaiting to start my first ever group bike ride. David Caples, the father of Katie Caples, who the ride is named after, gives us a countdown from ten just before the nearly 750 cyclists take off to either ride the 18, 36, 62 or 100-mile course.

I chose the 36-mile course since it was my first time riding more than 9 miles at a time. Next up...Fort Clinch. Riding through this state park meant seeing jungly palmetto bushes, Spanish moss and smiling pirates. It also happened to be the portion of the ride where I learned how to keep my pace while shooting photos and video. Two miles into the race, I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I’ve never been to Fort Clinch before. This place is absolutely beautiful and full of nature trails!” and then my chain falls off. Remember...this is still the learning phase.

After putting the chain back on, the next 30 miles included riding through the gorgeous neighborhoods of Amelia Island, getting lost a few times, passing multiple golf courses, struggling over the windy Nassau Sound, drinking water from a pirate’s cup, meeting my Team Mayo Clinic riders and finishing a bike ride that made me feel so gratified. I just helped raise awareness of the importance of donating life.

...and here are the photos I shot during the ride:

...and the video:

PS: In twitter speak, by putting this "#KatieRide" in a tweet, it allows all of tweets that are posted to twitter, to be categorized and linked together. You can see what I'm talking about here. I put it in the title of this post to show how social media was involved with The Katie Ride for Life.

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Tags: bike, camera, David Caples, Florida, Jason Pratt, Katie Ride for Life, KatieRide, Matthew Clark PhD

April 6th, 2011

Kidney Donor Found Via Social Media

By Makala Arce MakalaArce

Most people think of Facebook and Twitter as fun, engaging social media sites, used to make friends and connect with those sharing common interests. Kirti D. sheds a new light on the power of social media as she tells us an amazing story of how it led her mother, Anuradha D., to an incredible gift—a second chance to lead a healthy life.

Amy and KirtiIn 2002, after suffering from symptoms for years, Anuradha was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. With a kidney function of less than 50 percent, she was given less than seven years to live. Since then, she and her husband have committed themselves to her health and living well. Anuradha has controlled her disease and symptoms through diet, medication, yoga and homeopathy.

Despite all of Anuradha’s efforts, by October 2010, her kidney function reached less than 20 percent and she was placed on the transplant waiting list. Unless she found a donor match, she faced a long wait of about six years.

Her daughter, Kirti, knew that her mother would not have six years to wait on the transplant list, so she did what she knew best--she turned to social media and started a Facebook page.

Kirti started the page to help her mother find a kidney--she provided regular updates and information on organ donation and kidney disease. Even if she did not find a match for her mother, Kirti believed she might be able to help someone else.

In January 2011, Kirti posted a link to her mother’s Facebook page on her status update—“Mom is having a particularly hard week, and her situation is getting a little more desperate”. That evening on Twitter, she began receiving tweets from a Twitter follower, Amy D. inquiring about her mother’s health and questioning what they needed regarding a donor match.

At the time, Amy and Kirti had been following each other on Twitter for a little over a year and had met at dinner over the summer. Amy tweeted that she was interested in learning more and asked that Kirti call her. She shared that she was a B- blood type (an initial match) and would be interested in seeing if she was a match for her mother. Amy explained, “I have two kidneys, but you only have one mom.”  When Kirti hung up the phone, she said she “cried her eyes out.”

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Tags: donor, Facebook, kidney, social media, transplant, Twitter

February 27th, 2011

Sharing with His Radio Family

By Lee Aase, Director, Mayo Clinic Social Media Network LeeAase

Scott Hennen is on the air three hours every weekday on his syndicated radio program based in Fargo, North Dakota. He has had ulcerative colitis since 1997, and on Monday morning is scheduled to have his colon removed at Mayo Clinic.

Scott came to Rochester late last week for pre-surgery appointments, and broadcast his show live from the Mayo Clinic campus. Just before his Friday show, he reflected on why he has chosen to be so public about his medical condition and treatment:

Scott's family will be providing updates on his progress Monday via his Facebook profile and on his Twitter account.

We plan to follow up in the coming days, posting additional video from our Friday interview with Scott and video updates during his recovery.

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Tags: Fargo, Scott Hennen, ulcerative colitis

January 24th, 2011

Mayo and the Telephone

By Makala Arce MakalaArce

Mayo has been committed to using the latest communication technology in service to patients since the earliest days of practice.

According to family tradition, young Charlie Mayo – 14 years old at the time – set up the first telephone link in Rochester in 1879. It connected his father’s downtown office with the Mayo family’s farm in southeast Rochester. A natural mechanic, Charlie worked without plans, simply following photos and descriptions he had seen in various publications. The telephone itself was a novelty. Barely three years before, Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent to develop “an apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically.”

Charlie’s father, Dr. William Worrall Mayo, quickly realized how the innovative technology could improve patient care. He became the first physician in town to install a telephone. Still, it was a challenge to get the public to accept this unusual means of communication. The Rochester Record and Union offered a helpful explanation on Dec. 12, 1879:

“The telephone line between Dr. Mayo’s office and his residence is now set up, the machines, or instruments, whichever they are, in position, and everything working splendidly. Conversation can be carried on just as rapidly and accurately as though the persons talking were only separated by a few feet instead of a mile, and familiar voices can be recognized as easily. Parties wishing to summon the Dr. between 6 in the morning and 9 in the evening can do so by making their wants known as Messrs. Geisinger and Newton’s drug store. After 9 p.m. and before 6 a.m., it will be necessary to find Mr. George Tilsbury, the night watch, who will operate the instrument between the hours named when occasion demands. This will prove not only a convenience but a positive benefit for the Dr. and his patients."

The Mayo brothers were innovators in all areas of medical practice, finding the best way to serve patients more effectively, including use of the latest communications technology.

That's why we see formation of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media as very much in keeping with the Mayo legacy. And it's why we're passing on the Mayo brothers' wisdom through a social medium we believe they would have used if it were available in their day.

Check out the "What would Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie Tweet?" initiative, with new wisdom from our founders every working day in 2011.

If Charlie Mayo installed a telephone system at age 14, how could he not tweet today?

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Tags: brothers, Charlie, family, Matthew Clark PhD, patient, technology, telephone, Tweet, Twitter, Will

November 24th, 2010

MaryEllen’s Journey: Searching For Genetic Clues (Episode 4)

By Julie Janovsky-Mason julie janovsky-mason

From the moment MaryEllen Sheppard was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, she wondered how she developed cancer.

Her ancestors, she said, tended to live long, healthy lives.

And other than a cousin, she wasn’t aware of anyone else in her family who had breast cancer.

As her battle against the disease began, MaryEllen’s thoughts also turned to her sisters, nieces, daughter and granddaughter who was on the way. Could they be at risk too?

In late March, MaryEllen and her sister Eileen met with Mayo Clinic’s genetic counselor Katherine Hunt to find out if genetics could have played a role in her diagnosis and get a better idea of how at risk her female relatives are.

The following video shows excerpts from MaryEllen’s actual counseling session with Katherine Hunt.

And watch the bonus footage of MaryEllen sharing her thoughts on her genetic counseling session and the procedure she needed to insert a port for her remaining chemotherapy sessions.

Missed an episode?

Please click on the following  to see MaryEllen’s journey from the beginning:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Dr Northfelt on Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Center team

MaryEllen on why she enrolled in a clinical trial

As always, please feel free to post a comment about the series or a message to MaryEllen after each episode.

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Genetic Counseling, MaryEllen Sheppard, Matthew Clark PhD

November 24th, 2010

Surpassing Expectations

By Makala Arce MakalaArce

Amber, a new Mayo Clinic patient, has been amazed with her experiences here.

She expressed, “I have a lot of experience with different health systems across the United States, and this model is not seen anywhere else."

Listen to more of her observations below to see how Mayo Clinic has surpassed her expectations.

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Tags: Amber, Expectations, Matthew Clark PhD, Surpassing

November 12th, 2010

Patient Education Wins National Awards

By amy amy hahn sattler

Mayo Clinic’s Section of Patient Education won eight 2010 National Health Information Awards.  The educational material was created with team collaboration from various clinical areas and Media Support Services. Winners earned gold, bronze or merit awards.


  • Pressure Relief Maneuvers (MC6479), Bronze
  • Teens + Living Well:  Staying Healthy & Safe (MC5727-02), Bronze
  • Pediatric Cohlear Implants (MC6292), Merit
  • Your Child’s Heart Surgery, Middle School (MC6141-04), Merit
  • Teens + Depression: You Are Not Alone (MC6356), Merit


  • Barrett’s Esophagus & Esophageal Cancer (MC6373), Gold
  • Your Discharge From the Psychiatric Hospital (MC6281-01), Bronze
  • How to Treat Your Feet (MC6345), Merit

The entries were judged and selected by a panel of health information experts. More than 1,000 entries were submitted.

Watch a clip from gold winning video Barrett’s Esophagus and Esophageal Cancer:">

Click here to learn more about the Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center.

This article was written by Amy Hahn, Communications Consultant in the Section of Patient Education, Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

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Tags: education

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