TEDx Speaker Series: Mike Sevilla on Social Media and Medicine


By Alyssa Pawluk


From cricket cuisine to card tricks, TEDx Youngstown aims to deliver on its theme, Breaking Boundaries, and this January, Mike Sevilla, a family doctor in Salem, will illustrate the boundaries he breaks through the use of social media.

Sevilla was born and raised in Youngstown where he attended Cardinal Mooney High School and later studied biology and chemistry as part of the Northeast Ohio medical program at Youngstown State University.

Following his time at YSU, he studied at Northeast Ohio Medical University and began his practice in medicine after graduating.

Currently, Sevilla is a family physician at the Family Practice Center of Salem where he has been working for 10 years.

Sevilla said that he will be speaking about social media in medicine during his talk, and how it can be used to enhance other’s knowledge of the medical world.

“I’ve been in social media for six or seven years now, and I think it’s important, especially for doctors — or anybody in medicine — to know about social media and how patients are using it,” he said. “Patients are always looking stuff up on the Internet, they are talking to me about it and they bring stuff in to me asking ‘Hey Dr. Sevilla, is this something that is correct, or I should know about?’ Social media is very important.”

Sevilla participates on sites like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. He runs his own podcast on YouTube as well as a show on Blog Talk Radio — the Mike Sevilla Radio Show — where he talks about his practice, social media and life events.

“There are a lot of doctors who don’t think that Facebook and Twitter and social media is very important, but what I talk to doctors about is that patients are really pushing doctors and nurses to know about the Internet and why it’s important,” Sevilla said.

In 2006, Sevilla started as an anonymous writer at the Doctor Anonymous Blog and, once readership grew, decided to rebrand his site as DrMikeSevilla.com in 2013. He said the majority of his audience is on Facebook and Twitter now.

“I do communicate with a lot of doctors, a lot of nurses and other people in the healthcare field. I also have a YouTube page,” he said. “I’ve made some videos, I’ve had some television interviews with channel 27 and I also have a podcast I do where I interview doctors and other people doing social media in medicine.”

Sevilla discusses medical topics in his videos like flu shots and breast cancer education, and his purpose is to make the audience aware of these subjects.

“When I talk to doctors, one of the things that I like to bring out is things that are wrong on the Internet, or myths that are out there. Probably about 10 years ago, there was a research study that was out that said that vaccines cause autism, which is incorrect. There is still a lot of information out there on the Internet about that, and patients bring that to me all the time,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity to open that dialogue with patients in saying ‘Hey, this is what’s correct on the Internet, this is what’s incorrect.’ I think it’s a real opportunity for me to talk to patients that sometimes things on the Internet are incorrect.”

In the span of seven to 15 minutes, Sevilla said his goal is to try and get people to know why he’s passionate about social media and medicine, and to encourage them to find their own passion.

“I really enjoy talking about medicine and social media, and I’m what I’m going to do at the end of my talk is just try to motivate people to get out there on the internet, or in social media, and talk about what they are passionate about. A lot of people are passionate about certain issues or topics, and media is a great way to communicate whatever message you want,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are not great at medicine, but they are great writers, great podcasters, or they do great stuff on Twitter and Facebook, and it makes me interested in what they’re doing. What I hope to do is inspire the audience to share their story out on social media.”

He added that TED talks have always motivated him in the past.

“I’ve been watching TED talks for a long time. I’m very inspired with them, not only in medicine, but in other fields, and it’s always been my dream to do a TEDx talk, and when I saw that it was going to be here in Youngstown, I was very excited about it and still intimidated at the same time,” Sevilla said. “TEDx and TED are high quality types of talks. I’m really looking forward to January to deliver my talk.”

Sevilla has done a multitude of speeches all over the United States, but admits that he is nervous for this event.

“I’ve never prepared for a talk like this in the past. It is a challenge for me. I’m very nervous going into this, but I do have a lot of friends that have been helping me,” he said. “I’m very nervous, but I’m very excited as well.”