Mayo’s social media chief lands first-ever Periscope colonoscopy

Lee Aase braved the camera on Tuesday to promote colorectal cancer awareness. Don’t panic; there are other ways to tap technology.

When trying to find a person willing to undergo a live colonoscopy on Periscope, Lee Aase just looked in the mirror.

The social media director at Mayo Clinic, said : “If I wasn’t willing to do it myself on Periscope, I didn’t have any business asking someone else.”

Communicators at Mayo had been preparing for the March observance of Colon Cancer Awareness Month. In the past, providers across the U.S. have organized free screenings and shared resources with their communities. After all, the American Cancer Society says colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., projected to claim more than 49,000 lives this year. With early detection and new treatments, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer, according to the ACS.

The hashtag and the broadcast

As preparation began for the live-streamed event, Aase and his crew used Twitter to promote the screening. #ScopeScope gained a lot of attention, and Aase became the face of Periscope’s first live colonoscopy.


He blogged and tweeted about the procedure, sharing insights on Mayo’s “In the Loop” Web page:

On Tuesday morning, as conscious sedation sets in, colleagues will take over the broadcasting via the Mayo Clinic Periscope channel and Twitter account… We’ll have one physician doing the colonoscopy and another physician answering questions.

Aase also mentioned the “dreaded colon prep” he underwent on Monday. He said he’s hopeful the “unique” online event will help alleviate fears viewers may have about colonoscopies and encourage them to learn more about preventative measures. “We hope this will both demystify the colonoscopy process and also encourage those of my vintage who haven’t yet been screened to get it done,” he said.


The live broadcast of Aase’s procedure has drawn some comparisons to Katie Couric’s live televised screening in 2000. However, with social media being integral to patient education, much has changed.

Thankfully, live-streamed colonoscopies aren’t the only ways for communicators to promote health and wellness while building their brands.

A more cosmetic application

In Florida, doctors have been touting a new robotics hair transplant procedure on Facebook and Twitter. A morning radio talk show host recently had his transplant story shared in a trade newsletter that promoted his Periscope event:

WFTL/Ft. Lauderdale morning talk host Rich Stevens has dealt with some serious health issues in recent months and hasn’t been shy about sharing details with his listeners. First, Rich had his heart fixed, then he lost a bunch of weight and had his teeth whitened. Tomorrow, the talk host plans to go under the knife for a hair transplant that will be streamed ‘live’ via the Periscope social media app.

There’s even an online “concierge Q&A” to educate people about robotics hair transplants:



Health care communicators are also producing podcasts not only to reach their communities but also to share professional development information between doctors and nurses. For example, LifeBridge Health near Baltimore has a growing audio library called LifePods.


Outside of operating and exam rooms, there are numerous opportunities to promote health care brands. Last year, Mayo Clinic used Periscope to offer a tour of one of its hospital’s historic chapels:


Communicators, what have you planned to tackle technology in 2016?

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