Twitter for professional development & collaboration… aka my Twitter “aha” moment”

I was going to write a post today about the Top 10 reasons why using Twitter helps me in my job.

But then I went back and read Colleen Young’s post on “Why add #hcsmca to your tweets”, and decided that pretty much the same things apply. So I’ll suggest you read her post instead.  And I’ll add a couple of new pieces of context.

  1. When I started pulling together the social media strategy for the hospital, I was struggling to find examples of the use of social media for patient support. I found more things in one afternoon with Twitter than in one month with my old best friend, Google.
  2. I’ve met lots of incredibly knowledgeable people working through the exact same challenges I am working through.  Some have been at it longer than I have, some for less time — but both provide me with new ideas and support.
  3. I doubled my take-aways from an OHA conference on community engagement which I attended — by reading the tweets from other people at the same conference.  It was funny how they took completely different things from the same presentations.  It was kind of like borrowing some one else’s poli sci notes back in university.

I tweet for my hospital, and I tweet for myself.  I try to keep the two distinct — even though they are both work-related.

Originally I had opened my own account only as a practice ground before launching the hospital into the world of Twitter. I learned more than I expected.

But my big “aha” moment didn’t really come until I discovered #hcsmca.  If you haven’t discovered it yet, check out this link.  It is an incredible on-line community of people interested in health and social media (but not necessarily just health and social media).  I peruse the hashtag stream through Tweetdeck throughout the week, when I have time.  And I try not to miss the weekly tweetchats, Wednesdays at 1 pm.  Not all the topics on Wednesdays are completely up my alley, but I figure you need to give some to get some.  And I’ve gotten plenty.  So I regularly grab a coffee, shut my office door…and prepare to read and type fast.

Through the #hcsmca stream I’ve come across other topic hashtags that have also been interesting or useful for various projects.  So I like to think of #hcsmca as kind of a home base, from which I take lots of day trips.

There are lots of other health hashtag communities to follow, like #MDChat, #RDChat, #hcsm, #hcsmeu, #mentalhealth, #mhsm, #patientsafety… and the list is endless.  Mental health, palliative care and chronic pain all seem to have very active communities.  Oddly, I haven’t yet found “the” hashtag for kids health topics (my main area of interest).

Does anyone have a suggestion for a new hashtag for me to love?

5 Comments to “Twitter for professional development & collaboration… aka my Twitter “aha” moment””


  1. colleen_young 17 February 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Ann, Thank you for this wonderful thumbsup for #hcsmca. It is indeed a wonderfully welcoming community of people who are always willing to learn and share. I love the picture you paint to describe how you use Twitter and specifically #hcsmca.

    Another healthcare-related hashtag group that I enjoy following is #hpm (hospice and palliative medicine). So often their discussions describe a caring healthcare that I would love to see extend to all healthcare all the time.

    For a full listing of all healthcare-related hashtags visit the healthcare hashtag project. http://www.foxepractice.com/healthcare-hashtags

    I don’t see a kids health chat although variations on #pediatrics are listed http://www.foxepractice.com/healthcare-hashtags/pediatrics/

    We can always do an #hcsmca chat specific to kids health of course :-) )

  2. mikenstn 18 February 2011 at 8:58 am #

    I find that use of twitter at Canadian health IT events is quite low. What have others noted in this regard?

    Michael Martineau
    eHealthMusings.ca

    • @d_bourne 18 February 2011 at 9:45 am #

      With the exception of the #hcsmca group, I find healthcare adoption of Twitter is generally low…both in day-to-day practice and at conferences. Many other sectors are way ahead of us. The conference I referred to in my previous comment was geared toward government employees; healthcare-specific conferences seem to have dismal rates of tweeting.

      If even our own IT folks are not embracing Twitter, as @mikenstn points out, it makes more widespread adoption in healthcare that much more difficult.

      I saw Ed Bennett speak at an Ontario Hospital Association seminar on social media a year ago, and he asked how many people in the room used Twitter…I would say about 10-15% raised their hands. That speaks volumes.

  3. @d_bourne 18 February 2011 at 8:01 am #

    My own “a-ha” moment was at a social media conference about a year ago. Many audience members were tweeting highlights of the presentations using a common hashtag, and before long, the conversation was joined by SM enthusiasts from around the world. Suddenly, one conference of about 100 participants had morphed into something of a much larger scale. And the input from the outsiders was truly valuable…one posted links to a site that a presenter had glossed over, and another posed a question to the moderator that changed the course of the presentation–for the better, I might add. There was talk about projecting the conference Twitter feed behind the speakers at future events, to create a more interactive atmosphere.

  4. ann.fuller 23 February 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I love that. Think the OHA would try it?


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