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Why does your medical tweet matter to big data?
Everything on the web accumulates data, even on platforms like Twitter. Twitter is an online microblogging system that enables users to send and read short 140-character posts called “tweets” and is categorised within the web 2.0 landscape.
Twitter is the world’s largest instant global conversation platform, making it an effective tool for healthcare stakeholders to interact (health 2.0), communicate and educate others in real-time. Although it isn’t perceived as a clinical communication tool for obvious reasons, including those pertaining to patient privacy, it does provide an indispensable opportunity to reach a massive audience, both locally and globally. Social channels like Twitter also generate a significant portion of big data which can help us to identify patterns of behaviour and sentiment which might be useful in future towards design research for health system development or other areas like clinical trials and disease surveillance.
In contrast to the consumer market, big data generated online for healthcare will be much more sensitive to noise, therefore, it is important to consider methods of standardisation to help stakeholders generate more meaningful data.
Below are three criteria to consider when tweeting about health care:
- Speak to your audience: Two reasons why social media sites like Twitter are being utilised for healthcare is to disseminate public education and to promote professional networking. Educational material can take the form of a video, blog, article, photo, Twitter chat and illustrations, it can also be a simple line of text. When sharing a tweet to your followers make sure you leverage that opportunity to encourage your audience to engage by using those characters strategically. Share your thoughts about the article you are tweeting out rather than leaving your characters blank or using hashtags only.
- Know your healthcare hashtags – Symplur is one of the world’s leading platforms who have a free index of hashtags specific to healthcare. According to Wikipedia, A hashtag is a kind of metadata tag marked by the prefix #, sometimes known as a “hash” symbol. This form of tagging is used on microblogging and social networking services such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linkedin and Instagram. When hashtags are used in Tweets they connect into a thread. Ideally using a common thread is advisable so the information you are sharing connects to the most popular communities. Hashtags are used in front of keywords like #healthIT, in Twitter chats like #hcldr, geo-communities like #hcsm and #hcsmSA as well as to share conference conversations like #PHASA2017.
- Share credible medical content only: Ask yourself if it’s reputable before you share it. Once you send out a tweet you create a digital footprint which can’t be erased. Familiarise yourself with the South African Medical Association (SAMA) guidelines of web 2.0 ethical practice here.
Follow @hcsmSA on Twitter to learn more from our community members or share your own perspective by including the geo-hashtag into your tweets.
Author: Vanessa Carter, e-Patient Scholar
#hcsm #hcsmSA #ePatient #eHealth