by February 25th, 2014on
In this blog series, we are highlighting the social media categories presented in “Social Media: A Review and Tutorial of Applications in Medicine and Health Care.” This was a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, which offers an extensive digest of the vast uses of social in medicine and healthcare. Today we’re going to talk about the emergence of Twitter as an important communication medium in this industry.
The study correctly titles Twitter as a “microblog.” With microblogs, we take many of the same concepts found in my previous post about blogging, namely community and collaboration, and we widdle them down to 140 characters or less. Twitter is that place where communities of people that are interested in a similar topic, be that interoperability or Oscar night, digest a lot of information quickly together. I rely on Twitter heavily to keep me up to date on everything related to #hitsm (health it), #hcsm (healthcare social media), #mhealth (mobile health) and #connectedhealth (I’m sure you’ve got that one without need of assistance).
The study gets extra points for classifying three broad categories of tweeting styles:
- Substantive Tweets: a tweet that is independently understandable (e.g., title of a paper or blog, a brief comment, and a link to the publication)
- Conversational Tweets: fragments of a new or ongoing conversation that draw on professional or personal interests or comment on current events. (e.g., there is no greater example of this than the Twitter discussion at HIMSS (#HIMSS14)
- Hybrid Tweets: substantive and conversational at the same time (e.g., “let’s discuss patient engagement tonight at Sidewinder Coffee”)
According to the study, there have been over 140 documented uses of Twitter. I’ve not met the person that is actually documenting these uses, but some favorite examples include:
- The Pennsylvania State College of Medicine has used Twitter to augment peer-to-peer and instructor-to-student learning by stimulating topic discussions, providing feedback on critical thinking, conducting course evaluations, disseminating writing prompts, soliciting class responses, and monitoring student progress.
- A junior doctor and a medical student started a Twitter Journal Club that functions in the same manner as traditional journal clubs, except that the means for discussion is Twitter. By using a combination of blog posts, where the paper and discussion questions are posted in advance, along with the hashtag #TwitJC, students, doctors, and anyone interested in the subject can engage and interact in a meaningful way.
- Live tweeting surgeries and medical procedures. Henry Ford Medical Center was the first to live tweet a surgery back in 2009. Swedish Medical Center in Seattle has used this tactic very successfully. One notable example was an overnight tweet up they did on sleep disorders. Those impacted by sleep problems were able to watch what happens during a sleep study.
As mentioned above, the use of Twitter at conferences is powerful. Not the least of these examples is taking place this week in Orlando at the HIMSS conference. At these conferences, Twitter is used to enhance learning through real-time interaction. See for yourself by following the #HIMSS14 thread.