The Doctor Will Tweet You Now

I really like Twitter. Its scrolling 140-character tableau of news nuggets fit perfectly on my hand held device, lap top and home personal computer. It’s easy to glance at between tasks and the advertising is blessedly minimal. I control the content by following and unfollowing other Twitter accounts with a simple click or a touch.

But why, physician-skeptics may ask, is Twitter any better than traditional web browsing, email, list-servs and handheld apps? I thought about that and am pleased to offer my Top Twelve reasons why every doc should include Twitter in their informatics medical bag.

1. Lit Headlines: The major medical journals use Twitter to efficiently describe their latest content with links.

2. Fame: Traditional print authors are publishing more and more about less and less. Getting peers to follow your original and insightful tweets is the new route to attaining status as an expert. I have more than 500 daily followers vs. how many actually read the average peer-reviewed article?

3. News Junkies: Some of your like-minded peers are freely aggregating and retweeting relevant headlines with links for your perusing efficiency. They can be indefatigable.

4. Kool-Aid Immunity: Did you know your Chief, Chair, VP, lead administrator or Dean wants to control all your communication? Twitter is an easy way to step out of the information bubble and monitor contrary news about that EHR, medical device, performance standards, your institution’s business partners, the competition and more.

5. Efficiency: Twitter trains you to be both brainy and brief. If you can’t fit it into 140 characters or less, you’re wasting your readers’ time.

6. Messaging: The “@” allows you to interact with established and potential colleagues outside of your institution’s email system. Thanks to this function, I have met some wonderful colleagues.

7. Medical Conference Tweets: View formal and informal updates and insights about that conference you’re attending from not only the meeting organizers but other attendees.

8. Community: Like-minded colleagues are not only clustering in listservs but in Twitter.

9. Room for Diversions: Efficiency makes it guilt-free to include non-medical content.

10. Speed: It’s astonishing how quickly Twitter users spot and link just-released reports that take days to appear on the web and weeks to appear on print.

11. Searches: Yes, traditional literature searches and Google have their advantages, but the “#” function can find links to information resources that you might otherwise miss.

12. I am on Twitter.

Jaan Sidorov, MD, is a primary care internist and former Medical Director at Geisinger Health Plan with over 20 years experience in primary care, disease management and population-based care coordination. He shares his knowledge and insights at Disease Management Care Blog, where this post first appeared.

5 replies »

  1. Great article! We’ve seen our Twitter followers grow quickly since joining, which in return gets us more website traffic. What is most impressive is a majority of our followers are health care providers and professionals. By that I mean doctors, nurses, dentists, massage therapists, mental health counselors, etc.

    From what we’ve seen this group is adopting such a quick and convenient form of social media because they do no have the time to sift through the fluff. We use our Twitter (@HealthLawFirm) to share news stories that might related to our followers and how we can possible help them through the same legal situations.

  2. This is a great overview … in addition to gathering and analyzing data on physicians’ use of twitter (MDigitalLife.com), my team and I have also been helping doctors to better understand and leverage the power of social media to help them advance the causes that are most important to them.

    This article just became a staple in my training materials!

  3. Wow congrats on the new traffic Bobby. We just started on Twitter a little over a month ago, it definitely helps.

  4. Nicely stated.

    I finally went over to The Twitter Dark Side. My blog traffic more than quadrupled in just the first couple of months.

    More importantly, I find breaking HIT and health care news items I’d have otherwise missed. Every day.