Friday, June 26, 2015

Why in the world would Healthcare Organizations use Twitter?

The purpose of this blog is to show you why Twitter is an important tool for Healthcare Organizations and Healthcare Professionals

What exactly IS Twitter?

Twitter is a free social network that allows a user to either write online posts (limited to 140 characters) or read them - over 500 million active users to date.  Here's how you get started 
  • Create a profile
  • Give a short handle to state who you are
  • Upload a photo
  • Provide a short description of the yourself
  • Start to follow organizations that you are interested in

Check out this video on a successful use of Twitter for Healthcare Organizations and Professionals

This video addresses the large scale population that can be reached on Twitter by the medical director of Cardiology of the Mayo Clinic.  He emphasizes the importance of Twitter to the Healthcare community: it has a broad reach, easy access, and high usability.  These are all great qualities when considering how to makes the best use of your time and money as a Healthcare Organization.  

Here's a great video explaining why Healthcare Managers should be on Twitter.

  • One of the points that he emphasis that I think is crucial to understand is that Twitter is not only about SHARING it's about LEARNING - now that's a new way to think about it! 
  • He also focuses on the fact that with all of the time constraints managers have today, Twitter can help simplify information to do the job better - quick tips versus lengthy articles.  Who has time to read long articles today? (Except of course if you're a student? :OP)
  • Having the option to only follow organizations that you choose to follow helps categorize and narrow down the information that you, as a Healthcare Professional, are genuinely interested in.  
  • He also points out that Twitter has become the source of real-time and breaking news, and being in the profession of Healthcare that is an important source to be a part of.  
  • Not only that but professional associations are sharing articles and information.  How much easier is it to have all of the organizations you are interested in on one site versus visiting each of them individually?  
  • The great thing about Twitter is that it can be used efficiently in only 5 minutes a day!  Time is money, they say :) 

How can twitter be useful for Health Organizations?

  • It's an opportunity to deliver information directly to people who actually want to receive it without having to have a large budget set aside for advertising, or waiting for the media to cover the organization.
  •  Help amplify a message by reaching target audiences quickly and easily 
  • Can help strengthen the reputation of both the organization and area of work

Twitter benefits the Healthcare Professional as well

  • An effective tool to engage in colleagues
  • Can disseminate important and timely news
  • It is a resource to large audiences
  • Increases awareness of issues 
  • Build and Strengthen networks

There certainly are many reasons why a Healthcare Organization or a Healthcare Professional should get involved with Twitter.  Being able to do so much with such little funding, time and effort is certainly to the benefit of the provider.  Having the ability to share information in real time allows it to be current and much more useful to those who follow.  Having the ability to network with other organizations and healthcare professions opens up a communication forum that is simple yet effective.  The younger generation is online more and more, and Healthcare Organizations have to tap into their world.

Top 10 suggestions for tweeting effectively

  1. Include relevant and interesting content - don't be boring
  2. Be informative and engage the audience - get information as well as feedback
  3. Keep it short - so others can re-tweet you
  4. Give credit where credit is deserved - you'll get re-tweeted more if you do
  5. There is no rule as to how often you should tweet 
  6. Be involved in the conversations and mention partners/organizations
  7. Use hashtags such as #healthcare for others to find your message easier
  8. Tweet in the afternoon it's the best time to do so
  9. Provide links - don't just give a piece of the information give your followers a way to find out more
  10. By all means, please, use proper grammar and don't use abbreviations (because not everyone knows them!)
These tips will allow you to be a better tweeter, which will lead you more followers, and broaden the audience you wish to serve.  Keep it interesting, simple, and yet informative. 

Here is an infographic to help you with your Twitter account

  • It's a bit overwhelming at first but once you take one section at a time it will help your Healthcare Organization, or you the Healthcare Professional, create smart and effective tweets.  Here are some highlights

    • There's a Handle (user name account) which helps you decide who to follow versus the Hashtag which a keyword or topic (the top 10-15 are considered the current trend)
    • 80% of what you tweet should be conversations and only 20% should promos
    • Join your own tweet subjects to keep them active
    • Focus on your passion - it will encourage the audience to see you as the influencer in the industry
    • Remove pointless words from your tweet - keep it short and sweet

But, sometimes you have to be careful not to read your feedback incorrectly.  Monitor it Carefully.  Here's an example of what can happen if you don't.

  • An article posted about the Chicago Department of Public Health used Twitter because it "reaches groups not widely reached by traditional media and its use is growing in the U.S. and globally."  That sounds great right?
  • They released a series of tweets about a policy that would ban electronic cigarettes and received hundreds of feedback tweets against the policy it was trying to regulate.  
  • They received great response, but found that a large percentage of users were against the policy but also NOT local.  The locals actually were in favor of the policy.  The opinion of the locals was NOT represented by the feedback because it was overwhelmingly represented by 90% of people from other cities (non-locals).  
  • Lesson learned "professionals should be aware of these sorts of coordinated responses to controversial topics and recognize that the sentiment expressed may not be that of their local constituency."  
Though it may sound a bit overwhelming the city still got feedback of what the majority of the public things about this topic and still learned from the experience.  At the end of the day it is a great way to create an interaction - whether for education, survey, feedback, or information.  It's a simple forum that is easy to follow and share.  That ease helps create discussion at a fast pace, and the world of healthcare certainly changes quickly enough for Twitter to be an effective tool for that!

One of ways Twitter creates discussion is with Healthcare Tweet Chats 

Remember the #hashtag discussed earlier?  In simple terms, hashtags cluster conversations together about a specific topic. has an important link to connect Healthcare Organizations or Healthcare Professionals:
  • Healthcare Hashtag Project  
    • Where healthcare conversations are taking place
    • Is a place where you can be discovered and followed within your specialty or disease
    • Where you can see what healthcare topics are trending in real-time
    • Typically has multiple tweet chats going on at any given point in time

Symplur aims to utilize Healthcare Social Media and Twitter to make the healthcare community more accessible as a whole. 

By utilizing hashtags, the site is attempting to bring together conversations of interest and importance regardless of where healthcare communities live and what time zone they live in.  With social media and faster internet Symplur has found a dramatic upsurge in healthcare communication which can "bring incredible value by segmenting, analyzing and curating online healthcare discussions to answer unique questions and needs."  

  • Can you imagine being a physician wanting to have a discussion about a healthcare topic that has you perplexed with anyone, from anywhere in the world, with experiences that you don't have and find answers in a matter of seconds? 
  • Can you imagine being a part of the hashtag phenomenon wanting to market your product and finding doctors from around the world who are interested without having to step foot outside your office?
  • Can you imagine holding a conference about a topic with people from all over the wold simply by using a hashtag?
It's all possible.  Twitter has the ability to connect Healthcare Professionals in a way that many other social media don't.  Twitter has a way to market a Healthcare Organization and collect information from consumers, gain feedback and share information - for free.  

Images found
Twitter Marketing
Healthcare Professional Face
Twitter Bird with X
Doctor using Tablet
Health Chicago
Good Ideas Here


Unknown said...

Hey Sabrina,

I think a lot of the blogs from our class (probably including my own) have been skipping over or maybe forgetting about the reason as to 'why health organisations would be using social media in the first place?' For free advertising! And in the section of your blog 'How can twitter be useful for Health Organizations?' you re-explain the purpose. Which is a great idea if somebody sees your blog for the first time today.

Anonymous said...

Let me start off by saying your blog looks absolutely awesome! It's extremely easy to read while being entertaining to look at. Good job Sabrina. I agree with DanJamCamHam, I do also believe people in our class have been skipping over the reason why health orgs are using social media. I looked at your example of a health tweet and I found it interesting. I think health tweets could be the future for raising awareness of health care or organizations that deal with health issues. Keep producing blogs like this an you will deff pass this class! :)

Have a good day,

Unknown said...

Wow. Sabrina, your blog posts are phenomenal and extremely engaging as well as entertaining to read. The youtube video shared regarding twitter and healthcare in education definitely solidified key points that I was unsure of like what social media site should we recommend health organizations and professionals opt for first. Twitter is definitely a great choice because of how easy it is to get started and use. I also feel like it's important because people do enjoy reading short headline updates and sometimes the entire news story or information can be posted in a tweet. I would much rather read some tweets from an organization instead of descriptive articles unless I was doing research or actually concerned about a specific topic. One of the things you mentioned that I also did was that we should provide links. Links are crucial when sharing information. I cannot tell you how many times I've read tweets that are like "front page headline stories" and there be no links to further my reading. I think that twitter can easily be mastered by any health organization or professional and utilized effectively after reading your blog post!