Integrative Practitioners Where Are You?

Mayo Clinic’s new Center for Health Care Social Media has added 17 new member to its advisory board.  The full 30-member group includes MDs, RNs, advocates, patient reps, technologists, and privacy experts, including members from other countries, all of whom have been working to bring social media into hospital and healthcare settings.

Not unexpectedly, the group does not include anyone at work in integrative medicine, or in prevention and wellness.   (Disclosure: A long shot, I also applied, unsuccessfully.)

Mayo established the Center for Health Care Social Media in large part from the initiatives of one of its communications managers, Lee Aase (more on whom below).  Mayo describes its philosophy this way:

Mayo Clinic believes individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and that it is our responsibility to help them use social media tools to get the best information, connect with providers and with each other, and inspire healthy choices. We intend to lead the health care community in applying these revolutionary tools to spread knowledge and encourage collaboration among providers, improving health care quality everywhere.

But: Isn’t Minneapolis a center for integrative medicine…?

It is. So there is a special disconnect here in the absence of integrative practitioners, since Mayo is a near neighbor to several of the nation’s leading integrative medicine centers:  the Allina Systems’ Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the University of Minnesota’s Center of Spirituality.  They are national leaders in integrative practice, in clinical applications and in medical education.  Mayo itself operates a clinical Complimentary and Integrative Medicine program, and publishes the book “Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine.”

The reality for integrative medicine and integrative practitioners is that social media and Health 2.0 have been on the back-burner.   Their professional organizations have focused intently on establishing their credibility and efficacy through research, licensing in the states, in every day clinical practice in towns across the country, and importantly, placing the field into the language of the health care legislation.

An irony in this disconnect is that Integrative medicine (also complementary and integrative medicine, or CAM) and social media both share a common attribute: both have been driven into conventional care settings by consumers.   It is no accident that the advances in the acceptance of complementary and alternative therapies has paralleled the growth of the Internet, starting in the late 90’s.  As information became more personal, more experiential and shared through social media, assumptions about the value of many aspects life — news and health choices to name two — have changed dramatically.

Mayo’s Center for Social Media establishes an important model for provider organizations, who now formal bring the public deeper within the walls of their institution in a very close-at-hand way.   It will be important for integrative practitioners to join such efforts, since the preferences of their own patients has in large part created this phenomenon, and the whole-person approach to care is becoming more prevalent in those settings.

It is also appropriate to note that a jerky video of an elderly couple playing a piano helped launch it. Check it out below.

Lee and the Piano Duet in the Atrium

Mayo has taken on this social media health care leadership role in large part due to the efforts of

Lee Aase

Mayo's Lee Aase

Lee Aase, initiator and now director of the Center for Social Media, after serving as Mayo’s manager of Syndication and Social Media,  Over the last three years, he has carefully developed and put in place social media capabilities for Mayo.  All the while he has shared his experiences and insights through Facebook and Twitter and  his blog  “SMUG” — the Social Media University Global.   SMUG is a tongue-in-cheek name for a hugely informative blog resource that has helped many hospitals get started in social media.   He has spoken to innumerable health organizations, but also to local business and civic groups,  explaining the reality of social media and its inexpensive entry costs.

Lee’s presentations  (here at include tracking the impact of the most exhilarating example of the viral power of social media: a YouTube video of a married couple (62 years) who stood at a piano in the atrium at Mayo one day in 2008 and started to play a catchy duet from vaudeville.  Somebody had a flip camera. At last count: 7.49 million views.  Enjoy if you haven’t already: