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Introducing Dr. Farris Timimi – Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media

Recently the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media brought on board a new Medical Director – Dr. Farris Timimi. As part of the Advisory Board for the Center, I wanted to get to know Dr. Timimi a little better and share with you some insights into his work and his new role. We’re really happy to have him on board and I’m personally looking forward to seeing him move forward the mission of Mayo.

Here is a brief video where he touches on his interests in this new role:

You can also find Dr. Timimi here on Twitter! Now onward to the interview –

P/S: Can you give us a little background as to how you got involved in the medical world and what prompted you to focus on cardiovascular disease?

FT: My interest in Cardiology reflects the opportunity to merge physics and medicine. I have consciously chosen my clinical practice, advanced heart failure/transplant cardiology, as it is one of the few sub-specialties within cardiology that allows for continuity care, i.e., the opportunity for a long-term relationship with a patient and their family, all too rare in Cardiology practice.

My interest in engagement reflects lessons I have learned as to the value of partnership. Several years ago, I established a small indigent Cardiology clinic in rural Minnesota, to provide cardiac care in an underserved community clinic. As a product of a state funding mandate, one-half of the community clinic board was to be made up of patients and their family members. It became readily apparent, truly after the first meeting, that many of the barriers to health care that my patients encountered were issues that I only discovered about when we met as a group to discuss operational clinic issues. This lesson, the value of that transparent conversation, led to my subsequent exploration of patient-family advisory councils as a broader means of capturing patient and family input, particularly at the level of policy and procedure development, ideally at the moment of content creation.

Social media, as applicable to health care, is the logical extension of those value lessons to a realm that has no geographic or time barriers.

P/S: What contrasts do you see in today’s medical practice versus 10 years ago, as it relates to the treatment of patients?

FT: I believe we are in the midst of a fundamental and frank evolution of the patient-provider compact, a transition from a transactional encounter, to one of two-way partnership and open engagement. There is clearly a developing expectation on the part of patients and their families of partnership that is evident now, much more so than when I first finished medical training. This applies to all levels of the care continuum, ranging from the intimacy of the patient-provider interaction, to the level of institutional policy and procedure development, and now more evident at the level of national health care policy. I also believe more providers have begun to recognize the value of this conversation, the value of bringing all stake-holders to the table.

P/S: With the development of the Clinic’s Center for Social Media – where do you see the organization playing a role in the next 10 years of health/medicine?

FT: Social media represents a group of tools that specifically allow conversations to occur regardless of geography, and in an asynchronous fashion. My primary focus will be seeking and identifying opportunities in the arenas of clinical practice, research and education, where these tools can be used. My second focus will center on insuring that these tools, as often as possible, foster a conversation as opposed to a transaction. In essence, we need to extend the lessons we have learned from the evolution of the patient-provider compact, namely the transition to open, two-directional engagement, to the digital domain. The more transparent and the more conversational, as opposed to transactional, that we can be, the better we can serve others and the more value we will all garner.

P/S: Where do you see the limitations of social media and what crucial aspects will help sustain its role in providing a better health/medical community?

FT:It can be all too easy to view social media as a purely marketing strategy. Fundamentally, in health care, it represents an opportunity to extend the conversation with patient and providers, with teachers and learners, independent of typical constraints. Critically, it is only by keeping this mind set, that authentic content of real value to all parties can be fostered.

P/S: What do you hope to accomplish in your new role as Medical Director?

FT: I have seen, repeatedly, the value for both patients and for providers, in open partnership. That conversation, the capacity to listen productively, has been powerful. I want to insure that we continue to apply Mayo Clinic’s primary mission, namely, “The needs of the patient come first”, to the digital domain, by insuring that we continue to evolve the capacity for constructive partnership. We face many challenges in health care and are in the midst of a paradigm shift; community design has the capacity to allow us all to build a better iteration. Gandhi said “We must become the change we want to see in the world”; by using social media tools to truly working together, we can crowdsource the change we want to see in health care.


Excellent feedback here Dr. Timimi and truly looking forward to the next chapter in the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media! More details on the appointment can be found here on the Center’s blog.

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