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Top Six Ways Twitter has Improved Healthcare on its Sixth Birthday

Written by Kayley Conti
March 21, 2012

Since it was launched six years ago, the growth and success of Twitter has been incredible. From popular brands generating millions of followers, to hospitals creating a sense of community for their patients, Twitter has definitely changed and improved marketing in many industries—including healthcare! Twitter allows doctors to establish credibility with patients, keeps users in the loop with the latest healthcare news and acts as a platform to teach users the specifics of surgeries and procedures.

Here are the top six ways we feel Twitter has improved the healthcare industry:

1) Fostering Doctor-Patient Communication

Twitter allows doctors to be in constant communication with patients. While Twitter should not (and legally cannot) be used to discuss any personal patient matters, it’s a great way to answer general health questions. Quick responses are very impressive and will definitely earn you bonus points!

2) Providing Latest Healthcare News

Major news publications including the New York Times (@nytimeshealth), MSNBC (@msnbc_health) and TIME (@TIMEHealthSci) are constantly sharing updates about the latest health industry news, treatment developments and fitness tips. These updates allow the average Twitter user to stay updated on medical news.

3) Connecting Patients to Each Other

Twitter and other social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and blogging have provided an outlet for online patient-to-patient support. Patients can share their blog posts and stories via Twitter and generate conversation with others that may have the same medical issues.

4) Community Building: Tweet Chats

Tweet chats have become a popular way of rounding up people with common interests and generating conversation. By using a hashtag (e.g., #HighBloodPressure), Twitter users worldwide can share answers to questions, opinions and tips. There are tweet chats that serve doctors sharing tips with one another, patients and caregivers asking questions to doctors, and patients supporting each other. Symplur provides a full list of existing health-related tweet chats.

5) Raising Awareness

Twitter has also helped raise awareness of several diseases and disorders. Hospitals, national foundations and non-profits raise awareness by sharing facts, statistics and stories about disease. For example, The National Breast Cancer Foundation (@NBCF) urges women to get mammograms, shares stories of breast cancer survivors and encourages people to ask questions.

6) Live-Tweeting Surgeries

Perhaps one of the most controversial uses of Twitter in the healthcare industry is live-tweeting surgeries and procedures. As discussed in our previous blog post, it’s become popular for surgeons and doctors to tweet status updates, pictures and videos during surgeries. This is not only a great way to teach medical students, but also a great way to educate patients on exactly what doctors do.

What do you think?

These are just a few among many ways Twitter has changed the healthcare industry. How has Twitter changed the way you interact with patients and other doctors?


Category: Social Networking


2 Responses to “Top Six Ways Twitter has Improved Healthcare on its Sixth Birthday”

  1. What a great list! I really agree with number 2, as Twitter has truly increased the level of access that patients (or future patients) have to find the latest in healthcare news. This should not only keep the healthcare industry on their toes, but help patients make more informed decisions.

  2. kconti says:

    Thanks, Chris. We agree! The access to health information that Twitter and other social networks provide should really change the way both doctors AND patients approach healthcare.

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