Using Twitter For Health Care

Last week, I talked with a reporter about using Twitter for health care.  It can add a new dimension to communications, but I am not sold on it replacing current communications.

Some of my jumbled thoughts on this:

  • I like the one to many concept of Twitter with the opt-in concept (preference-based marketing), but it doesn’t personalize to the individual the way the information is delivered.
  • It definitely provides a stream of consciousness which is interesting.  I see a lot of application for a reality show type of health tools…like Biggest Loser via Twitter.
  • I like the idea of posting a question to a broad audience for quick response – Does anyone have research showing the impact of statins on asthma patients?
  • I don’t see this helping with patient to provider communications.  Do I really want my blood sugar posted to Twitter and sent to my physician from my smart device?  Do I (the physician) really want to see all that real-time data?  No.  What about HIPAA…from what I know Twitter is not meant to contain confidential information.  There are plenty of rules engines which can be used to capture data; look for things outside the norm; and then send an alert.
  • A lot of healthcare information has caveats and requires more than 140 characters to get across the message.  Most clinical things couldn’t be send this way.
  • As with most inbound things (i.e., I have to register or search it out), Twitter feeds get those that know what they are interested in and are active in their health management.  It still doesn’t help to drive action from those that aren’t engaged in their healthcare.
  • I can certainly see it as an alert to information, but since one tip to productivity is to batch things, do I really want them broken out during the day in a bunch of Twitter feeds.  I would rather get a daily synopsis from a website (which might be created by Twitter feeds).

Some things I found when looking on the web about this topic:

Here is a presentation on Twitter (they even have one of my old posts in there…which was a pleasant surprise to me) around healthcare.

So, my general perspective is that there is some value in pushing basic information out, reality show type of healthcare (Twitter surgery), capturing feedback, and developing community, but it’s not a tool for the corporate to individual communications that I typically deal with.

One Response to “Using Twitter For Health Care”

  1. These are great points and we had touched upon a few of them while developing a twitter app for Trialx. The app is simple. All you need is to QuTweet (query tweets pronounced cute-tweets) us at TrialX (@trialx), put in the keyword “CT” (for Clinical Trial) followed by your health profile. In about a minute it’ll send you a reply tweet with a tinyurl link to the TrialX page containing matching FDA approved trials as per your QuTweet.

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