Twitter is a social media platform where conversations take place. Hashtags are a tool that health care professionals can use to promote their profession, discuss issues around health topics, and to build community with healthcare stake holders – whether thats other health care professionals, members of parliament, the Minister of Health, patients, patient advocacy groups and journalists.
Well this all sounds very wonderful, but where do you start? Let me introduce you to, the hashtag:
How do you use hashtags?
Use hashtags to:
- Follow Topics, Issues and Events regarding key words (e.g. #onpoli for Ontario Politics) which can be about events (e.g. #IMPACT2012 had tweets regarding American Academy of Physician Assistants Annual Conference in Toronto, ON), and issues on health care (#sdoh for social determinants of health)
- Join Tweet Chats: There are some hashtags dedicated to not only topics, but are present for live, scheduled chats. Joining tweetchats allow those tweeting under a unique hashtag to meet and discuss regularly.
How do you stay up to date with tweets you are interested in?
Tweets in different topics are constantly being updated, so how do you stay up to date with tweets that you are interested in? There are one of two ways I know of:
Option 1 – Use Twitter Search to Track Hashtags
Refresh the page occasionally or bookmark the search:
This does work, but can be cumbersome if you want to track multiple hashtags or health care topics.
Option 2 – Use a Twitter Client to Track Multiple Hashtags
Download a twitter client app for your desktop (e.g. type in “Twitter” in the App Store for your Phone or Computer) or sign up for an online twitter client (e.g. TweetDeck, Hootsuite) and add a column that tracks the hashtags of your choice.
Here are examples of how I’ve used Twitter Clients:
Here in Tweetdeck, I’ve added 3 columns. One column is a search for #cdnhealth tweets, the next is for #PhysicianAssistants (middle column) – you can also see this search can be refined. I added a third column to track a list of Canadian PAs on twitter.
Hootsuite is one of my favourite twitter clients for tracking whats going on in social media. It works similar to Tweetdeck, but also allows you to track and manage other social media accounts (e.g. Facebook).
Hootsuite also has the ability to add columns. Each column can be a customized search for a hashtag that you are looking for.
What Hashtags can I use?
Hashtags to Start With:
- #FollowFriday or #FF: On Friday’s, list a few users that you recommend your followers to follow.
What are good hashtags to use for Physician Assistants?
- #consortiumPA – PA Consortium Education Program
- #MBMPAS – Manitoba Master’s of Physician Assistant Studies
- #PhysicianAssistants – For all PA related conversations
- #PhysicianAssociates – PAs in the UK
- #PAStudents or #PhysicianAssistantStudents – For PA Students
- #IPE – Interprofessional Education
- #IPP – Interprofessional Practice
What are good hashtags to use for Canadian Health Care?
- #hcsm – Health Care and Social Media
- #hcsmca – Health Care and Social Media Canada.
- #cdnhealth – Canadian Health Care
- #cdnpoli – Canadian Politics
- #abhealth – Alberta Health
- #onpoli – Ontario Politics
- #onhealth – Ontario Health
- #meded – Medical Education (international hashtag)
- #mededuca – Medical Education in Canada
- #hcbc – Health Care British Columbia
- #mhsm – Mental Health Social Media
- #CHCchat – Community Health Centres Chat
- #CHC or #CHCs – Community Health Centres
- #pcc – patient centered care
What are patient related hashtags?
- #ptsafety Patient Safety
- #epatient – Empowered, Engaged patient
- #hcdm – Health Care Decision Making
- #patienteducation or #patientedu – Patient Education
If health care professionals, especially the Physician Assistant Community starts tweeting with using hashtags, we can start increasing our reach and presence in social media with other health care stakeholders who are also using twitter as a platform.
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