If you have used Twitter for health IT information in the last six months, it is likely that you have come across the hashtag “#HITsm” at one point or another. The #HITsm hashtag stands for “health IT social media.” Like other hashtags on Twitter that are search terms, or tags, dedicated to a specific topic or theme, #HITsm is dedicated to facilitating conversations on the use of social media in health IT.
It is likely you’ve seen the hashtag, and possibly even used it once or twice. But, how exactly did it start and what types of conversations was it intended to facilitate?
The philosophy behind #HITsm actually began long before Twitter. In fact, it originally began as the idea behind this blog, HL7 Standards around 2005. HL7 Standards, like #HITsm, was intended to be a resource for health IT professionals, connecting them to information, organizations and like-minded professionals in order to build a community of resources dedicated to solving some of the biggest challenges to date for the health care industry.
When I began working on HL7 Standards last year, I recognized an opportunity for Twitter to share updates and information on the blog with our readers. When I created the Twitter account for HL7 Standards, @HealthStandards, one of the first things I noticed was a unique dichotomy in health IT voices on Twitter. Coming from a communications background (an industry that was quick to claim territory in the social media space), I found this void to be interesting.
What I noticed was that there were a few valuable and influential health IT voices in this space that had an incredible amount of influence on the dissemination of news in the industry. There were listeners on the other end, but hardly any response to the blogs or news that was shared. It seemed to me that the conversations with these individuals were hardly two-directional and more in line with a one-directional RSS feed.
To help facilitate a conversation between the broadcasters and listeners, HL7 Standards launched the hashtag #HITsm to help provide a sounding board, or chat room, for conversations on health IT social media to take place.
The official process began in in early November 2010 when we began tweeting topic appropriate articles under the #HITsm hashtag. About mid-November, in conjunction with a blog post on HL7 Standards titled, “Health Care Social Media – My Confession,” we formally announced its use to the Twitter community. Near the end of November, we had attracted a significant number of organic users under the hashtag and decided to register the hashtag under the Fox ePractice Healthcare Hashtag Project.
Following the increase in #HITsm participation, we witnessed an opportunity for increased interaction among leaders in the health IT space and other health IT professionals. Therefore, in January we initiated the #HITsm Tweet Chats as a way to schedule regular participation around health IT related topics.
According to the Healthcare Hashtag Project, a tweet chat is defined as:
“A Twitter “tweet chat” is a prearranged chat that takes place on Twitter by using tweets that include a predefined twitter hashtag to link those tweets together in a virtual conversation. The Twitter healthcare community is very active in promoting these chats, and new chat sessions on varying health and medical related subjects are continually emerging.”
This offered an intimate opportunity for individuals participating in the #HITsm hashtag stream to initiate conversation, interact with one another and foster their relationships.
There are two ways to join the health IT social media conversation on Twitter:
- Include “#HITsm” in your tweets related to healthcare IT, current events in health IT and other health care social media topics.
- Log into Twitter on Monday evenings, from 8-9 p.m. CT. Open a separate window. Visit tweetchat.com and type “HITsm” into the search bar. You can see a screen shot of this below:
HL7 Standards blogger, Jon Mertz, explains the importance of health IT engagement via social media in his post titled, “New Frontiers for Health Care: Social Media” that was featured on the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Enterprise blog:
“[Health IT professionals] are the people who implement applications like Electronic Health Record systems; maintain the IT infrastructure in the hospitals, labs, imaging centers, and clinics. They support the physicians and clinicians by keeping the “lights on” for all supporting systems. A critical role, no doubt. The social media activity here is low; however, one of the very early adopters, and still very active, is Life as a Healthcare CIO. Just as physicians share lessons learned, there is a big opportunity to do the same in the health IT segment.”
So, what are you waiting for? Join the conversation!