“By lowering the learning curve of Twitter with a database of relevant healthcare hashtags to follow, we hope to help new and existing users alike find the conversations and people of interest and importance.”
Despite naysayers and laggards, the growth of social media continues to explode. In the past year, the number of tweets per day on Twitter has risen 252 percent as shown in this excerpt from Search Engine Journal’s recent infographic.
Nowhere is this more evident for healthcare than in growth of the Healthcare Hashtag Project, now just over a year old. The site has become the epicenter for tracking healthcare conversations on Twitter via hashtags.
What is a hashtag? A tag added to a tweet consisting of a word or acronym prefixed by a hashtag or the pound sign. For example, #HITsm stands for Health IT social media, and represents the @HealthStandards Twitter Chat and related content on this topic.
A good hashtag is short and simple. Hashtags allow you to search a topic to find all the people talking about that topic. The Healthcare Hashtag Project simplifies the search process specifically for healthcare on Twitter. The project is an invaluable free tool to search by hashtag, get transcripts of Twitter Chats and conferences, and to connect people via influencer lists and live Twitter feeds directly on the site.
“We started the project tracking about 170 healthcare hashtags. Currently, we are in the midst of a major revamp of the site and will be adding more new, user-friendly features including a section for hashtags specific to diseases,” according to Thomas Lee, a founder of the project.
In addition to hashtags for specific healthcare topics, the Healthcare Hashtag Project tracks Twitter Chats (organized and scheduled conversations on Twitter) and conferences for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry. With the addition of disease states, the total number of hashtags to be tracked by the project will exceed 700!
5 Simple Steps to Get Started with the Healthcare Hashtag Project
1. Go to the main page to see a listing of all the hashtags in alphabetical order. You can also see hashtags ranked according to “popular”, “most viewed” and “newly added.” Or you can search for a more general topic, like “accountable care organizations”, and find all the related tags that fall under that topic.
2. Select the hashtag you are interested in. For example, #mhealth covers tweets related to mobile health. The hashtag’s individual page displays information, statistics, and analytics including a real-time “live feed” of tweets on the topic.
3. Find influencers and people to follow. You can also see who the current influencers are on a topic by a) the number of times a specific user is mentioned or b) by the number of tweets on this topic. This example shows the influencers of the #HITsm hashtag for November 29, 2011, at 7:00 am. The influencer list continuously updates; it is a great starting point for finding people to connect with on a specific topic, as are the “live feeds.”
4. Find a Twitter Chat and download a transcript. One of the most popular features of the Healthcare Hashtag Project is the ability to find information about, and download transcripts from, one of the many Twitter Chats on Twitter. You can find Twitter Chats via the calendar or by alphabetical order. Once you have chosen a chat for a healthcare conversation you are interested in, click on the chat link for the chat’s page. It will include a download tool for transcripts from the chat. (Please note: In the near future, you will no longer have to enter all the info to get the most current chat transcript. The site’s revamp will include direct links for the most current chat!) If you use the site’s current transcript download tool, remember all times are in Pacific Standard Time.
5. Find a hashtag for an industry conference you are attending or following. Following a conference hashtag allows you to connect with new people and is one of the best ways to expand your network–whether you are attending physically or virtually. If you are a conference organizer, remember to register your hashtag with the project!
Busy building new features for the Healthcare Hashtag Project is Audun Utengen who is obsessed with continuous improvements to make the site user-friendly. He says, “Almost all features, from transcripts to analytics, are ideas put forth by some amazing individuals in the healthcare social media community.”
Lee adds, “Though we were the ones who launched the Healthcare Hashtag Project, it’s really been a ‘community project’ from the start. That’s certainly true when it comes to the hashtags themselves that have been submitted to us, but the evolution of the project and its features have also largely been as a result of suggestions from the community.”
What is the future for the Healthcare Hashtag Project?
Utengen predicts, “There will be even more information being created in a continuous stream. All of this will demand more real-time analytics and curation. However, computing power and algorithms can only take you so far, the value of hand crafted curation will greatly increase.”
Lee concludes, “Through community support, this project will continue to evolve in ways that will bring additional functionality and information to its users. The imminent release of a new section dedicated to diseases is one example. Up until now our main focus has been on those who work in the health field. We hope that through the inclusion of a database of disease hashtags that we can help patients more easily find the connections that they’re seeking as well.”
Look for lots of new features coming soon to the Healthcare Hashtag Project. What features would you like to see? What do you like best about the project? Please add your ideas and suggestions in the comments below!
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