Twitter and Healthcare?

The popular and growing micro-blogging platform famous for its 140- word character limit has been ubiquitous these days. Celebrities are all over it with mass followers, commercials and televised events give hashtag words to use when tweeting about their products or events. Even the White House maintains an active Twitter account, but how is Twitter appropriate for a professional field such as medical, and how can physicians and other health care providers use it professionally?

Twitter is an excellent source for gathering the latest news and developments on any topic you find relevant and interesting. In addition to following large news outlets on Twitter, you can use it to find others in your field who are informed and active on Twitter. If  you are just getting started consider, websites such as , they curate a regularly updated list of the most influential doctors on Twitter.

Whether you are sharing information with the general public or exchanging thoughts and opinions with colleagues in your field, Twitter allows you to position yourself as an informed expert by sharing information. In this manner, you can also stay abreast of breaking news and learn from others’ shared perspectives.

If used correctly, Twitter can be effective at promoting your practice or office. Tweet about upcoming events or specials, Twitter-only discounts, or to promote your website or blog. The key to a successful social media account is content that users find valuable. Using Twitter to share general health tips and news related to your specialty is a great way to provide helpful information, establish yourself as an expert in your field with a broad online audience, and cultivate a following of interested, attentive followers.

When it comes to “sharing” a professional in the healthcare industry should always be discreet. Twitter should never be used diagnose conditions or betray your patients’ privacy. Yes, it is possible to share too much and identify patients, even inadvertently. You must also keep in mind that, unlike direct messages, Twitter replies and re-tweets are publicly viewable and searchable.

Shama Kabani is a best-selling author, speaker, and president of The Marketing Zen Group in Dallas. Ms. Kabani may be reached at or via Twitter @Shama.

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