You’ve probably been to a conference or meeting and overheard a colleague discussing the importance of Twitter for their medical practice. It seems everyone knows the importance of the microblogging platform, but familiarizing yourself with Twitters platform can be extremely overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created this handy healthcare guide to Twitter. We’ve packed in all the details on hashtags, as well as details on the most popular tweet chats. So, grab a cup of coffee, your Twitter tools, and dive in to the healthcare guide to Twitter.

The Hashtag

One of Twitter’s most popular features is the hashtag. If you’ve ever taken a peek at a Twitter feed, you’ve most certainly noticed the “#” followed by a word or phrase. This, is a hashtag. The hashtag is a way users can collect, gather, or direct their thoughts to a common thread. Think of a hashtag as static to dust, or a magnet to metal. It attracts tweets that have been tagged with that #/phrase combo. A great thing about the hashtag is, anyone can use it. If you are attending a conference at the Mayo Clinic, or a symposium on the newest plastic surgery techniques, adding a hashtag can make your tweet part of the larger conversation. An important thing to keep mind of, is only use hashtags when they are relevant. You only have 140 characters to work with, so if your entire tweet is comprised of hashtags, you’re missing the point of their use. If you are looking to have your tweet valued by Twitter’s healthcare community, it’s important to not spam hashtags.

Tweet-up or Twitter-chat

Now that we know what hashtags are being used for, let’s dig in a little deeper and engage. The healthcare community regularly uses hashtags to organize meetings, also known as tweet-ups or Twitter-chats. These weekly meetings occur throughout the week and cover a wide degree of topics. By tweeting with the appropriate hashtag, you are participating in an almost real-time conversation with other healthcare community members. Tweet-chats range in size from a few members, to a large, worldwide, participant base. The great thing about tweet-chats are, if you can’t participate at the designated time, you can go back and search for tweets that occurred during that time period, and still benefit from the discussion.

Popular Healthcare Twitter-Chats (Times in EST)

  • #hcsm
    • Healthcare social media community
    • Sunday 9pm
  • #HITsm
    • Healthcare information technology community
    • Friday 12pm
  • #MedEd
    • Medical education community
    • Thursday 9pm
  • #RNchat
    • Registered nurse community
    • Thursday 9pm
  • #STDchat
    • Sexually transmitted disease community
    • Friday 1pm
  • #BCSM
    • Breast cancer community
    • Monday 9pm
  • #mhsm
    • Mental health community
    • Tuesday 9pm
  • #QualityChat
    • Patient safety community
    • Wednesday 1pm
  • #CPHC
    • Empowerment and crowdsourcing community
    • Tuesday 2pm

These 11 healthcare tweet-ups just scratch the surface of the chat sessions involving healthcare. Most chats are informal and extremely inviting of newcomers. If you are new to a specific Twitter-chat, make sure you introduce yourself to the group. Don’t be afraid to press the follow button if a participant has something interesting to say. Odds are, they can be a helpful resource. Have you participated in a tweet-up on behalf of your clinic? What was your experience? Leave a comment below, and let the community know.