Saturday, February 21, 2009

Where will Twitter fit in the New World of Online Medicine

As a recent new user of Twitter (a social networking site that is based on short, up to 140 word, messages called "tweets"), I have been intrigued with the role that products like this may have in the new online world of the future, especially online health information.

The environment is fast and allows groups to find and communicate with each other in an "instant message" atmosphere.

For example, today, I signed on and began exchanging views with a couple of experts in the field of patient advocacy. Before I knew it two other people had picked up on this conversation and began "following" me (the word for having someone's "tweets" automatically show up in your inbox area. As a result, I quickly made and solidified new relationships in the area of using online health for patient advocacy. Another cool feature is that you can put a "hashtag" (# sign) beside a term in your message and, by clicking that term later, can go directly to all the messages from all of the users that also put that term in their message. In that way, it is easy to sort and keep up with the areas of your interest.

So, whatever your interest area, it is easy to find others on Twitter who share it and, soon, develop a network of "tweeps" (people who are twitter users) to communicate with about your favorite topic.

One word of caution: it is addictive and, due to a lot of "junk" on there, it is easy to waste time if you're not disciplined about the way you use it.

So, give it a whirl. I think you'll be intrigued as well.

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