Providers have a moral obligation to create and curate content for patients online, and the absence of clinicians on social media can have catastrophic consequences, says Dr. Farris Timimi, medical director for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. So how does social media impact the patient experience, what tools do you use and where is digital health headed in the next 5 or 10 years? Dr. Timimi describes the small-town mentality on Twitter, the value of transparency, and how social media is not a substitute for clinical practice.
Air Date: August 7, 2016
Guest: Dr. Farris Timimi, medical director, Mayo Center Social Media Network
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Jared Johnson: Providers have a moral obligation to create and curate content for patients online, and the absence of clinicians on social media can have catastrophic consequences, according to Dr. Farris Timimi, Medical Director for the Mayo Clinic Social Network. So how does social media impact the patient experience? What tools do you use, and where is digital health headed in the next five to 10 years, this week on The Health IT Marketer Podcast.
Welcome back to The Health IT Marketer Podcast, the podcast that tells the story of innovation in digital health. I am your host, Jared Johnson, your pilot on this crazy rocket ship called healthcare. Welcome aboard. If want to keep up with the trends, tools, and voices involved in the digital health revolution, you’re in the right place. Remember, the top three ways to engage with me are: one, subscribe; two, leave your review on iTunes; and, three, tweet me at @jaredpiano, J-A-R-E-D, P-I-A-N-O. Then let me know what stuck out to you from this episode.
And this week, starting now, the fourth way is in-person. Let’s tweet up to meet up at SHSMD or HCIC coming up this fall. Tweet me with #hitmarketerpodcast, and let’s meet up at one of the conferences. That’s #hitmarketerpodcast. And let me know what day and time would work best for you. I’d love to meet you in person. Well, let’s jump right in. Today’s guest is Dr. Farris Timimi, who is the Medical Director for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Dr. Timimi, how are you doing today?
Dr. Farris Timimi: I’m doing well, sir. How about you?
Jared Johnson: I’m doing fantastic. How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?
Dr. Farris Timimi: Actually, it’s disturbingly pleasant. It’s a beautiful day. It’s a Thursday afternoon. We have an event called Thursdays on First, which is just near the hospital. That’s a great craft fair that I’m going to walk through this afternoon. It really is a beautiful day.
Jared Johnson: Well, I usually ask because for about eight months out of the year I’m bragging about the Phoenix weather, but right now I’m avoiding it at all costs. Yeah, it’s pretty miserable right now. I’m not going to lie.
Dr. Farris Timimi: Come to Minnesota. We’ll be happy to have you.
Jared Johnson: Well, I would love to. I’ve actually been there this summer and it’s beautiful. Well, tell you what, let’s jump right into this. Tell us about your background and what you’re doing in your current role.
Dr. Farris Timimi: Absolutely. I’ve been on staff at the clinic for nearly 20 years. And initially, when I came on staff, I was involved in the establishment of a rural indigent clinic in rural Minnesota. And part of the mandate of that clinic was that half of the clinic board be made up of patients of family members. And it was truly an eye-opening experience for me to see their perspective on care, many opportunities that I was unaware of that, frankly, I can’t know that outlived their true disease trajectory.
And because of that experience, I became involved in patient family advisory councils, which are a construct that lets us bring the voice of the patient into the care process. And for me, social media is just a digital extension of our listening strategy to patients and their real-life experience in the current digital era.
And I’m incredibly passionate about us using these tools as a much broader strategy than simply for a marketing endeavor. Our capacity to meet our patients and use these tools strategically for clinical education, clinical practice, for research opportunities, for academia has never been broader or greater, and that’s the role that I’ve evolved into.
Jared Johnson: One of the things that Mayo has done is create a social media accreditation program. I know you partner with Hootsuite on it. Can you tell us about that? Who is it for, and who does it help?
Dr. Farris Timimi: That’s a great question. It’s a tool that I’ve been very proud of, we worked very hard to create. So I think there’s a growing recognition on the part of healthcare providers, and that includes physicians, nurses, all allied health staff, that there are opportunities to use these tools correctly. But, like all tools, there are clear guidelines that need to be followed, clear orientation, and clear training and onboarding that need to be incorporated.
And our intent in developing this social media accreditation was to assure that healthcare professionals at any realm or any level of a clinical practice could learn how to use these tools correctly. And it’s just like any other tool in medicine. You certainly wouldn’t give a number 11 blade, a scalpel, to a new trainee without providing them clear orientation, clear guidelines, clear, meaningful training, and testing how they learn. And our intent is to bring the same sort of academic rigor that we incorporate in every part of clinical practice to the aspect of social media in healthcare.
Jared Johnson: Well, it sounds like it’s had a great response. Have you had a better response from marketing and communications professionals or from healthcare professionals?
Dr. Farris Timimi: No, actually, we’ve seen really dramatic uptick among healthcare professionals more than anyone else. Physicians, nurses, allied staff have been, probably, our largest user group because they’re struggling right now. There’s been a transition in the last four years in the conversations I have with healthcare professionals running social media. Initially, it was more an issue of how can I convince them this is important.
They now understand it’s important. They clearly see the potential benefit, but they don’t know how to use the tools, and, more importantly, don’t know how to do so professionally, to do so in a fashion that brings respect and really maximizes the opportunity. So the majority of the people who have taken a course have been healthcare professionals, the frontline staff – physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, mid-levels, the care providers we see as patients on a daily basis.
Jared Johnson: You mentioned using it professionally. What’s the biggest lesson you can share with healthcare professionals about using social media professionally versus personally?
Dr. Farris Timimi: So I would actually highlight professionalism from a different perspective. I know what you’re alluding to. You’re alluding to the fundamental message that the power of social media is that the material created, the media we share is archived and scalable. So it reaches beyond geography and beyond time, and that truly is the biggest fear healthcare professionals have. But by professionalism, I mean the impact of our silence on clinical outcomes.
For example, if you look at vaccine compliance in the United States when the DP vaccine was introduced nearly 67 years ago, we saw a dramatic drop in the cases of whooping cough in the United States. We went below 10,000 cases a year for nearly 37 years, but now we’ve seen an abrupt uptick in whooping cough cases that are approaching epidemic proportions in many states.
I believe our silence on issues like this, our inability to participate in the conversations online, has catastrophic outcomes in healthcare. And so by professionalism, I mean both the absence of unprofessional behavior, but also the presence of professional utilization of these tools, and it’s both aspects that we focus on in our training.
Jared Johnson: Well, let’s talk about patient experience. I’m learning by being back at a provider that the term “patient experience” is very different depending on who I’m talking to.
Dr. Farris Timimi: I think you’re absolutely right. I think a patient’s perspective of their healthcare trajectory is dramatically different from mine or from any other healthcare professional. And the metrics or variables that are critical to me may not be the variables that are important to the patient. For example, my practice is heart failure. And, certainly, the variable that we often look at is how strong someone’s heart is on an ultrasound study.
But what’s really important to the patient is, “Can I do the things that I want to do on a daily basis and not get short of breath?” And that discrepancy in understanding can be challenging for both me and for the patients that I see. Part of the power of social is, frankly, as a listening strategy. Our patients have lived the true disease trajectory. They’ve had the real-life experience of their individual diseases.
They can provide insight and understanding and comprehension that can be obtained in no other fashion from a large group in a matter of minutes in a one-hour chat. Moreover, issues that arise that impact outcomes can be learned, I believe, more readily and more feasibly from a broad, crowd-based strategy. We can gain early insight into potential issues that may arise running treatment modalities in a fashion that we could only obtain in the past through large clinical trials. So I think the capacity to tap into a patient’s true experience, it can really be breathtaking.
Jared Johnson: So how can a clinician use social media to impact the patient experience?
Dr. Farris Timimi: So the most prudent approach that I can think of is to join a Twitter chat. So the patients have been predominant and have dominated this platform longer than we have. You can use a tool like Symplur to find the hashtags that are relevant . . . that’s the healthcare hashtag repository, hashtags that are relevant to your particular disease practice that you’re focused on.
Once you’ve identified those, you can use those hashtags to find Twitter chats or communities that gather online. And I would spend some time if I were a new provider to social media just lurking, just lurking and listening. Let them know who you are. I was born in a small town in Tennessee. There’s a small-town mentality to social. People are incredibly gracious. They’re helpful. They’ll guide you. They’ll give you points and clues on how to use the tools correctly.
But I think I would begin as a provider by listening. I also would begin as a provider, frankly, by looking at a course similar to ours before I began using these tools because you want to make sure that when you’re online you realize you represent yourself, your practice, your profession, your enterprise, and the field of medicine that’s relevant. So I would suggest new providers complete our course or course similar to that and then spend some time lurking and listening and letting patients know who you are and what you’re there to do.
Jared Johnson: So what are some advanced trends that you’re seeing? The clinicians that you’re seeing who have been doing social media the longest, what are they doing? How are they experimenting, and what are they doing right now?
Dr. Farris Timimi: So I think they’re beginning to recognize that social is not a replacement for clinical practice. That had been the hope, initially. There is still a profound value to the intimacy of a patient and a provider in the exam room together, but they’re beginning to use and view these tools as an additional tool in our [materiam]. And they’re thinking of clinical practice as morphing into two folds.
One is one-on-one. That means you as a physician in a room with a patient. The other is one-to-many, meaning you as a physician online with a community. And the tools have different metrics or variables that we examine. For example, I would think about social strategies for looking at community metrics for compliance, community metrics for health, community metrics for screening.
If you want to look at how many people in my community are being screened for high blood pressure, for diabetes, how can I improve those targets and those goals? How many kids in my community are wearing bike helmets? How can I improve those targets and goals? They’re viewing social as a means to achieve those strategies. So they’re beginning to see a bifurcation in practice with the power of an additional clinical tool that had never been there before.
Jared Johnson: One of the trends I see out there is how videocasting plays a role in social media for providers. What’s your take on that? How can providers use tools like Facebook Live, Periscope, and Blab and others to use videocasting?
Dr. Farris Timimi: Oh, frankly, I think they’re incredibly powerful tools. I think, frankly, we like watching videos. Not just we, but we on planet Earth. I think that’s the only way you could defend or explain the incredibly high production numbers from YouTube, both hours viewed per month and hours produced per month. But I think you can convey so much information in a video that can reassure, explain, or engage a patient in a fashion that you can never achieve in writing and do so much more efficiently.
As you’re well aware, Lee Aase did a Periscope video of his colonoscopy. I think the penetrance and reassurance people were able to see as a product of Lee beginning by live tweeting his preparation the night beforehand and then tweeting thereafter and then, frankly, seeing how quick the colonoscopy was, how rapidly they were able to complete the study. I’ve had patients who have told me, “I scheduled a colonoscopy because I saw your colleague’s video online.” That’s a powerful message. That’s a powerful message. If we could prevent one case of colon cancer, that’s a profound yield on that investment.
Jared Johnson: So this is a good time to break for a moment and mention our friends at Clarity Quest. Are you having trouble selling to large buying groups in healthcare? Clarity Quest’s new personalized videos can help. These are pretty cool little things. You’ve got to listen to this. Clarity quest now offers interactive video content. It’s personalized to each person involved in the buying cycle and it includes viewing analytics. Visit Clarity Quest’s website, ClarityQST.com, for more information. That’s ClarityQST.com. Clarity Quest, marketing experts who speak fluent healthcare.
Are there any other points about social media for clinicians that you’d like to convey?
Dr. Farris Timimi: I would really just reinforce the professionalism aspect. Again, by that, I don’t mean the absence of unprofessional behavior. I think providers have a moral obligation to address healthcare literacy barriers, misperceptions, and mistakes or misassumptions people make regarding their own healthcare. I think we do that very effectively in the clinical encounter, but I think the majority of providers are still exploring how to do so with a tool that’s one-to-many like social media.
And I would, again, ask them to think carefully about how their silence on the social platform, where people not only spend significant time but also, as you’re well aware, people have now evolved to the point that they view social media as a primary new source. They view Facebook’s live feed or news feed as a primary source of news and information. How healthcare provider’s silence in that platform can translate into other voices dominating the conversation.
There have been lots of studies conducted, for example, on YouTube videos on a variety of very specific diagnoses like high blood pressure, like diabetes, like rhinosinusitis, or runny nose. And the majority of videos in many of those diagnoses focus on either misassumptions, alternative treatments that have not been proven, or product placement, people supporting and selling their own products.
And it’s because, frankly, providers are very reluctant to participate or produce content of value. Our capacity to either create or to curate content that’s relevant to our patients on those platforms, producing media that is archived and scalable that can reach beyond time and geography, I think it’s hard to argue against the argument that that is a moral obligation of healthcare providers in the digital era.
So I would really reinforce to the providers that are going to be listening that our silence on particular issues is catastrophic and lets other voices that have their own agenda dominate the conversation. And I would urge them to think carefully about the impact that has both on their clinical practice and on their community of relevance.
Jared Johnson: Where do you think that digital health is headed three, five, or 10 years from now, and what’s the future of digital health?
Dr. Farris Timimi: I see a growing transparency in information access. So in the prior era, the healthcare provider was the primary focus or source or owner of all the healthcare data and literature and guidelines that govern clinical care. Healthcare is growing at an astronomical rate. There’s one new publication every minute produced in PubMed, which is a primary academic resource of relevance.
Our patients now have access to all that data, either through shared interactions through social platforms or in transparent data online. I believe we’re approaching the point where our patients have the capacity to be both the lived experts of their disease but also to have meaningful insight into care decisions that can be powerful. And there’s data to support this as well.
For example, if you look at what diagnosis, what new diagnosis in the U.S. has when they see the provider the highest percentage of correct care being offered to that patient. And the diagnosis that has the highest percentage of correct care being offered to the patient in the U.S. right now is breast cancer is the new diagnosis.
Because, in general, breast cancer are younger women who are electronically-able, who are intelligent, who are online, who are going to social platforms where they’re meeting with other patients who are also educated of their own volition, intelligent, articulate, and are telling them, “Before you see the provider, here are the five questions you need to ask the provider. Here are the decisions you need to make when you see a provider. When you choose a surgeon, this is what you need to think about before you pick a surgeon.”
So I see this transparency being a powerful tool toward evolving to a patient partner that can join with us improving healthcare. I think our ability to improve outcomes by participating in that conversation, by walking with our patients through their disease to recovery, is profound. They’re doing it right now in our absence, and when they do it correctly, it is a powerful outcome.
Jared Johnson: Well, unfortunately, we’re coming up to the end of our time here. So it’s time for our bonus question, and that is, “If you could join a rock back or music group for a day, who would that be?”
Dr. Farris Timimi: Oh, without a doubt, the Ramones.
Jared Johnson: Oh, yeah?
Dr. Farris Timimi: Oh, my God. Of course, yeah. The fathers of punk rock sound? They revolutionized music. I would love . . . I have no musical talent at all. I can’t sing or play an instrument, but if you could magically make me have the capacity to play a guitar, dude, I would love to play with the Ramones for a day. Can you do that for me? Can you make that happen?
Jared Johnson: Well, I could check my sources out there. I do have a couple of contacts, but I’m not sure what we can commit to.
Dr. Farris Timimi: Fair enough.
Jared Johnson: Favorite song or album from the Ramones before we go?
Dr. Farris Timimi: Everything they’ve ever produced. I will tell you off-the-record that I purchased Ramones t-shirts for both my kids the minute they were old enough to wear them.
Jared Johnson: Well, Dr. Timimi, we have covered so much in so little time. If our listeners want to connect with you online how would they do that?
Dr. Farris Timimi: Oh, they can find me on Twitter. It’s @farristimimi, F-A-R-R-I-S, T-I-M-I-M-I, and they can find me there anytime they want.
Jared Johnson: Well, let us know how we can spread the good word here on this program because we want to help usher in this era of digital health. So let us know how we can help.
Dr. Farris Timimi: Thank you for your time as well. Have a good day.
Jared Johnson: Well, that wraps up our program this week. Thanks again to Dr. Timimi. If you enjoyed this episode as much as I know you did, please consider leaving your review on iTunes. Ladies and gentlemen, remember it’s up to us to tell the story of innovation in digital health and remember to build your audience one gig at a time. Until next time, I’m Jared Johnson, and you’ve been listening to the Health It Marketer Podcast. This program is sponsored by Clarity Quest. For a full archive, go to HealthITMarketer.com. That’s HealthITMarketer.com. Thanks again for tuning in and I’ll talk to you again next week.