Mayo Clinic Launches Spanish-Language Outreach Campaign

PHOTO: Race car driver Adrian Fernandez of Mexico on May 3, 2012 in Francorchamps, Belgium. Fernandez, who has received treatment at the Mayo Clinic, is featured in their new Spanish-language video stories.

In the last year, Republicans have held strategy sessions, run hundreds of ads and spent millions of dollars trying to woo Hispanics. Now the world-renowned Mayo Clinic is also courting this group in a strategic, albeit less-funded way.

Every year, thousands of Spanish-speaking patients travel to the Minnesota-based nonprofit clinic from all over the world for cutting-edge treatment and Mayo has launched a new storytelling campaign to better connect with them.

Historias Mayo is a series of Spanish-language video stories about Latino patients and doctors. It's meant to inform people that Mayo is open to patients from all over the world, regardless of income or language, and that there are doctors and services available in Spanish.

The videos feature both unknown figures as well as famous faces, like Mexican race car driver Adrián Fernandez and Venezuelan fencing champion Carmen Militza Perez, who is now a doctor at Mayo.

Dr. Sharonne Hayes, a cardiologist and director of Diversity and Inclusion at Mayo, said during a phone interview on Tuesday that the storytelling project is a natural extension of other Hispanic outreach efforts. Over the last three years that's also included a revamped Spanish-language website as well as a Spanish-language Facebook page.

"Healthcare is all about stories," Hayes added. "For me, as a practicing clinician, the whole patient care experience is the story and how it unfolds and how we get to the root of their problems."

The decision to use stories as the centerpiece of the outreach campaign was key. People have been telling stories as long as they've been talking and there's a reason for that. There's a "visceral connection" inherent in storytelling, and connecting with patients is a big part of healthcare.

The videos are impressive. They feature pop-up icons that display videos-within-the-video when clicked, as well as related infographics. Emily Hiatt, a spokesperson for Mayo, declined to reveal how much money the clinic has devoted to Hispanic outreach and said only that the videos were "very affordable."

The outreach campaign comes at an interesting time financially for the clinic. Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy, a neurologist, said the clinic expects to see a significant loss of revenue over the next five years. It's part of why they have asked the Minnesota legislature for nearly $600 million to spend on infrastructure. Noseworthy was in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to lobby Congress, as he said at a news conference, "to fund excellence."

He said he expects Mayo to invest more than $3 billion in the local Rochester community over the next two decades and that the infrastructure money will help attract more people to their organization. The video stories make clear that the clinic would like to attract Spanish-speaking patients, too.

Mayo will be adding new video stories throughout the year. The videos are accessible via tablet and mobile devices, and Hiatt said that Mayo recognizes health care, like many things, is moving that direction.

"The goal is to inspire others to share their stories," she said, "so social media engagement is key."

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