On the same day that a Wall St. Journal article speculated that Facebook could be worth $100 billion by the time it goes public early next year (as has been rumored), the Mayo Clinic announced that it has launched its own online social networking community.
And it may be the first medical provider to do so. The Clinic says it knows of no other health system that has a social network.
The week-old community doesn’t have a catchy name, but it is populated with all the features of Mayo Clinic’s already robust online presence. The Clinic says it has the “most popular medical provider channel on YouTube, nearly 200,000 followers on Twitter and more than 53,000 connections on Facebook.” It also has a library of condition-specific podcasts and a blog highlighting medical news from the Clinic.
The networking site will be “a place for community members to share information, support and understanding,” the Clinic says.
Essentially, the network aggregates all the Clinic videos, podcasts, and news and allows for interactive discussions on topics ranging from arthritis to travel to the various clinic sites. Just like on Facebook, users can “like” a topic or add their own comments to a post.
With so many chat rooms and discussion boards out there–not to mention that advocacy groups and individuals use Facebook to solicit and give advice on health conditions and share experiences–will the Mayo network attract many users? The Clinic says that some 1,000 people have joined in the first week of operation. It’s open to any and all comers, not just Mayo patients or their families.
Presumably, the ultimate number of users won’t be of great importance to the Clinic, although it is potentially a great marketing tool. The Clinic also doesn’t have to worry about satisfying venture capitalists or stockholders.
But maybe Facebook should be worried.
—Alicia Ault (on Twitter @aliciaault)