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Twitter & Healthcare: An A-Z

I’m always amazed how a program or tool can revolutionize the way the world communicates.  No matter what sector of work you are involved in, I’d argue Twitter has touched it in some way or another.  One sector that has seen the largest growth since Twitters founding in 2006, is the healthcare sector.  Doctors, patients, pharmaceutical companies, and so on are integrating the microblogging service into their daily routines.  The integration is revolutionizing the way the healthcare field communicates with each other.  Doctors and patients are having Q and A sessions without even being in the same room.  Large groups of individuals are meeting in a virtual room to chat about healthcare topics via Twitter.  The way people utilize Twitter is ever growing and continually evolving.  Take a look at an A-Z of how Twitter is being used in the healthcare community.

  • Authority- Physicians, healthcare marketers, and hospitals are all using Twitter as a means of establishing themselves as authorities in the healthcare field.  Whether it’s engaging with other experts in the field, or creating captivating content, Twitter is being used to put an authoritative stamp on things.
  • Bio- Individuals in the healthcare community are packing their bios to its 160 character brim.  One of the staple lines on a bio page for individuals in the healthcare community states something along the lines of “Views expressed are mine & not of my employer”.
  • Community- The amount of community displayed via Twitter is amazing.  Relationships are nurtured between doctors and patients, physician and physician, patient and patient, etc.  The healthcare community is using Twitter to inform, connect, and to help.
  • Dialogue- Twitter is being used to open up dialogue throughout the healthcare community.  Patients are able to shoot one off questions to their healthcare providers about aliments and receive feedback from medical staff in the blink of an eye.
  • Educating- Physicians and hospitals are able to educate their communities about an infinite number of topics.  Physicians can educate colleagues on procedural techniques, while patients can offer insight to other patients on what to expect before, during, and after a procedure.
  • Following- Twitters healthcare community continues to expand as new physicians and healthcare campuses embrace Twitter and follow other users.  By following new experts in the community, users gain rich dialogue and help build a healthier community.
  • Gaining Knowledge- There is a lot of static on Twitter, but once you filter it out, there is a massive amount of knowledge to be gained.  Using tools such as lists, Topsy, or Bottlenose to organize the information coming through your Twitter feed, allows for learning and sharing of some very valuable knowledge.
  • Hashtag Chat- It feels like every niche on Twitter has a regular weekly hashtag chat session.  One of my favorite hashtag chats in the healthcare Twitterverse is #HCSM.  There are some wonderful discussions from a variety of different parts of the healthcare community.
  • Influencing- Using Twitter as a tool to influence other users is one of the platforms many uses.  Physician KevinMD touts having the most influence via social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
  • Joking Around- While there are a wealth of serious and academic tweets that are sent about healthcare, it’s nice to keep things light hearted at times.  Personalities of Twitter users in the healthcare field really shine during group hashtag chat sessions.  Just like in real life you build a rapport with others and can joke around via Twitter.
  • Keeping in Contact- Keeping in contact with colleagues and patients is another thing that the healthcare community does extremely well.  The amount of open dialogue that occurs with healthcare social media adopters is a thing of beauty.
  • Lists- Using Twitters powerful list feature is a wonderful way to keep things organized in the healthcare community.  Sort who you follow into lists to help organize the static.
  • Marketing- The healthcare sector does a great job using Twitter to market a variety of things.  Physicians use the platform to notify patients of new deals they may be running through their plastic surgery practice; medical marketers utilize the Twitter platform to market their newest eBook.  Marketing comes in all different forms, and 140 characters is one of them.
  • Networking- Networking on Twitter is easier then you may think.  Following, engaging, retweeting, and establishing your voice can be done in one of the many hashtag chat sessions.  Letting other users know you are out there helps to bridge the communication gap.
  • Obtaining Information- If you are looking for information on the internet, Twitter is a great place to find it.  Authorities and experts in all fields are engaging with users to help educate.  Following hashtag threads or different information streams will help you find pertinent info in no time, and if you can’t find it, asking on Twitter will help get you going in the right direction.
  • Promotion- What better place to do some promotion of your practice, marketing tool, or new drug then with a user base of over 500 million.  Twitter is that platform, and promotion is coming at the user from every which direction.  Between promoted tweets, and a soon to be presidential promoted trending topic, Twitter is a great platform for promotion.
  • Question and Answer- Are you a medical specialist and have an extra 20 minutes in your afternoon?  What better way to spend them, then engaging with your Twitter followers.  Q and A sessions are a regular occurrence on Twitter.
  • RT- What better way to get the latest AMA journal article circulating throughout the healthcare community then with a retweet.  Retweeting an article or idea helps to spread the news or share information.
  • Sharing- Sharing information on Twitter is easier than ever.  If you find an interesting article, retweet it.  If you have news to share, tweet it.  Sharing is easy as pie on Twitter.
  • Tracking- Twitter is being used to tack some really remarkable things.  Patients and doctors are using Twitter to track trends in the medical world, track notifications from the Center of Disease Control, and track a variety of safety related information.  The use of hashtags has made tracking information extremely easy and useful.
  • Updating- One of the interesting ways Twitter is being used between physicians and patients families is through 140 character updates.  The communication paths between surgery rooms and waiting room are free flowing with the use of Twitter.  Doctors can communicate with loving family members who are waiting to hear news on a patient’s wellbeing.
  • Voice- Patients and physicians are both using Twitter to establish a voice in the healthcare community.  Patients who may be intimidated with in office meetings are able to engage in dialogue with their physicians via Twitter.   
  • Weight Management- There are apps and even scales that will tweet and track your weight loss.  While this may or may not be the kindest tweet to read, it is one of the many uses of Twitter in the healthcare community.
  • X-Ray Discussion- Adding pictures to a tweet is a wonderful function of Twitter, but did you know that medical professionals and patients are tweeting pictures of their x-rays?  Being able to analyze an x-ray via a picture may not be the most ideal situation, but it can help in receiving a second opinion or an initial consultation with a specialist.
  • Your Health- While Twitter can’t magically make you well, it can provide you with insight from the healthcare community into your personal health.  Interacting with physicians, nurses, and other knowledgeable healthcare community members can help you take control of your health.
  • Zeroing In- Using Twitters user base is an excellent way to zero in on a question, concern, issue you may be having in the healthcare community.  It shouldn’t be the only resource, but it’s a great one.

Twitter is to be used as a tool.  It should never be used as a supplement for medical advice or a medical diagnosis.  With more and more experts of the healthcare community becoming involved on Twitter and other social media platforms, users are able to connect with much richer content.


Join The Conversation

  • Nov 25 Posted 4 years ago CareRxPharmD


    I throughly enjoyed your A-Z of Twitter and healthcare. Very creative and inclusive. I will have to add that there are many many other Healthcare Tweet chats, that happens on a daily basis, by the hour organized by Symplur. There are also categories based on specialty - nursing, medical, social media, pharmacy, end of life, etc . See here.

    Social media is here to stay and as well continue to learn how we can best use it to improve patient engagement, education, improviing outcomes, etc, we must continue to stress that it should never be used as a alternative or replacement for medical advice or a medical diagnosis.

    Great one!

    Dr Erowele


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