Hospitals: Twitter Hashtags Are a Powerful Listening Tool

In addition to participating in conversations, part of the power of Twitter is listening to the chatter.

Listening is important because it gives you insight into what others are talking about, and gives your hospital the power to jump in and contribute when appropriate. But in order to accomplish this, you have to be listening to the right people. Hashtags are an effective way to do this, so I have developed a list of 5 healthcare-related hashtags that will help you become part of the conversation.

#epatient

Definition: epatient refers to patients who are “equipped, enabled,     empowered and engaged.”
Average number of uses per day: 72*
Why you should pay attention: Because an epatient is one who wants to gain the most out of her healthcare, it’s important that you listen to what she is saying.
How to use this hashtag: Set up a column in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite and follow tweets using this hashtag. Then determine what kind of content your hospital can produce that will get the attention of all those epatients out there.
Related hashtags to check out: #sgsHealth, #ptsafety, #sochealth, #patient, #spoonie

#hc

Definition: hc is short for healthcare, a general term
Average number of uses per day: 191*
Why you should pay attention: This is a general term, but is important because the information you find attached to this hashtag can range from national news articles to blog posts to patient complaints.
How to use this hashtag: When you set up a column to follow this hashtag, it will also bring up hashtags that contain hc. Put quotation marks around the term so you filter out any unrelated and unwanted hashtags.
Related hashtags to check out: #healthcare, #health

#hospital

Definition: a general term used by individuals relating to hospital care
Average number of uses per day: 536*
Why you should pay attention: Your hospital is where patients receive their care, and you’ll want to know what they’re saying about you. Even if the tweets aren’t local, understanding the general public’s perception of a hospital is an important step to improving a patient’s experience.
How to use this hashtag: Have fun with this hashtag by creating two columns. In one, add a happy face to filter out only tweets that are positively mentioning hospitals, and another with a sad face to filter out only those with a negative association. You’ll be amazed at the number of people who say they hate hospitals, something you may be able to use to your advantage.
Related hashtags to check out: #er, #hospitals, #doctor

#hcsm

Definition: This hashtag is short for healthcare communication and social media
Average number of uses per day: 681*
Why you should pay attention: It’s important for your hospital to be aware of what’s being said in the healthcare marketing world, and with this hashtag you’ll find tweets from healthcare marketing companies, blogs in the field, and research and information that your marketing team can use to its advantage.
How to use this hashtag: Because you don’t want your Twitter account to sound like a marketing channel, we recommend just following this hashtag rather than using it.
Related hashtags to check out: #hcsmuk, #hcsmglobal, #hcsmla, #hcsmca, #hcmktg

#mhealth

Definition: This hashtag stands for mobile health
Average number of uses per day: 227*
Why you should pay attention: Smart phone apps are increasingly popular among Americans ages 18-29, and by following tweets with this hashtag you’ll stay up-to-date on what consumers want from mobile apps.
How to use this hashtag: If your hospital has implemented a smart phone application, be sure to note what’s being said about it.
Related hashtags: #MH11, #healthapps, #ehealth, #mobilehealth, #telemedicine, #telehealth

I hope using these hashtags will help you get a better handle on how listening will help you effectively engage in the Twitter world. While this list is by no means a real “top 5,” hopefully they will help you discover even more hashtags to make the most of your tweets.

Now I want to hear from you. What healthcare hashtags would you add to this list?

*All averages based on a 7-day period, from Wednesday, May 4 to Tuesday, May 10 and generated on my own from data on the Fox ePractice website.


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