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HL20: Lee Aase—Who's Behind @MayoClinic

By jfellows@healthleadersmedia.com  
   December 17, 2014

Lee Aase, the Mayo Clinic's first social media manager, and now director of its Center for Social Media, continues Mayo's excellent reputation by running one of the best social media campaigns in healthcare, and helps its physicians by teaching them about social media and the privacy issues.

In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. They are making a difference in healthcare. This is the story of Lee Aase.

This profile was published in the December, 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

"What really drove me into it was the way that these tools make communication free and almost effortless."

If Lee Aase, the Mayo Clinic's first social media manager and now director of its four-year-old Center for Social Media, had his way, this profile would probably only be 140 characters, the maximum length of a tweet. But his pioneering work at the Rochester, Minnesota–based healthcare system deserves a longer description.

The Mayo Clinic is, in many ways, a gold standard that healthcare leaders look to when they want to improve clinical quality, patient experience, and medical outcomes. Patients from around the world also put the nonprofit healthcare system on a pedestal for its team-based approach to helping them get better. In the 24/7 world of social media, too, the Mayo Clinic continues to retain its reputation of doing things well.

With such a strong, recognized brand, Mayo could have passed on jumping into social media. The name is so well-known, so well-respected, that it likely would have survived an absence on Facebook and Twitter. But Mayo chose to participate, largely because Aase saw the potential for social media to continue the system's mission of patient engagement and education.

"We're in our 150th year now, and our founders, Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie [brothers William Mayo, MD, and Charles Mayo, MD] had this tradition where one would stay home and one would travel around to teach and learn," says Aase. "They'd bring back best practices and they would take what they were learning to others, so this really isn't all that different. Instead of traveling by plane and by ship, we travel through cyberspace."

Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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