Hospitals

Mayo grabs more social media mindshare, adds a radio program and medical applications

Mayo Clinic Medical Edge Weekend is one of two online initiatives the health system announced this week. It also unveiled improvements to its Mayo Clinic Health Manager that add tracking applications to monitor and manage stress, blood pressure and cholesterol.

ROCHESTER, Minnesota — Mayo Clinic announced an old- and new-media initiative on Friday, serving up an online radio show that’s heavy on the Twitter and will also be syndicated to more than a dozen stations in North America.

Mayo Clinic Medical Edge Weekend is one of two online initiatives the health system announced this week. It also unveiled improvements to its Mayo Clinic Health Manager that add tracking applications to monitor and manage stress, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Both projects add to Mayo’s impressive online arsenal. Hospital executives said they planned to continue to expand online services, driven in part to boost revenue and draw patients. Mayo won’t charge stations for the new radio show, though. But in many ways you also can’t buy the kind of publicity it will generate.

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A dozen stations in the United States and Canada will start carrying the new hourlong broadcast, which is hosted by Mayo doctors and will feature Mayo staff as guests discussing health topics. The health system has always syndicated one-minute radio spots. This broadcast is a local radio show, hosted by Mayo Clinic Dr. Thomas Shives, that Mayo took over from the local station and will now placed it on a live stream while still broadcasting it on KROC-AM in Minnesota.

The health system did a soft launch this summer but officially unveiled it this week at the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show in Philadelphia, Mayo affiliate relations representative Dana Sparks said.

The show airs live at 9 a.m. Saturdays and other stations take the recorded episode for broadcast any time. The hosts post their topics in advance and answer e-mails from listeners. They also use Mayo’s main Twitter account to communicate with listeners — who include the Twitter tag #mayoradio — during the show and use some of the submitted material on air.

Radio stations that carry the program can generate money off advertising, but there are restrictions on the types of advertisers (drug companies, for example).

Medical institutions have dabbled in podcasts and full-blown radio broadcasts (TV segments are also more common). Most listeners have been rewarded with crushingly dull, bizarre or amateurish programming. The Journal of American Medicine’s audio commentary, for example, is a slow and deliberate listen that begins with an explanation of the art on the journal’s cover. The Johns Hopkins Medicine News Roundup and NIH Research Radio are among the exceptions and try to make their broadcasts as smooth as an NPR talk show.