Healthcare News & Insights

Twitter: Newest tool for patient care


Is there a legitimate use for Twitter as a health care delivery service? Yes, according to some professionals in the field — if the “just for fun” service is approached from the right perspective.

Far from being just a way to announce what you had for lunch, some providers and patients are using social networking tools to gather and send relevant health data. Registered nurse Phil Baumann recently wrote an article outlining 140 legit medical uses for Twitter and similar sites, including ways to spread information to patients or staff, as well as gather patient data.

Among them:

  • Sharing authoritative health/wellness advice
  • Arranging outpatient care and support
  • Assisting patients to manage diabetes and other chronic health issues
  • Nutritional, exercise and other daily health logs
  • Sharing FDA safety alerts
  • Recruiting for tissue donation, health studies, etc.
  • Managing shift workers’ schedules, and
  • Reporting adverse events and reactions.

Twitter can’t take the place of all forms of patient interaction, obviously. Not everyone will be interested in joining the latest trend. Not to mention that the open nature of social networking sites requires some serious consideration of HIPAA issues when dealing with patient data.

But embracing newer forms of communication can help provide better care for some patients.

Tell us how social networking tools could help your hospital or practice provide better care — and what concerns you may have about using them.

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  1. Any news on Perfusion ?

  2. Rebecka Tolley says:

    I could see a use in getting the information out about flu shot clinics, or when a new shipment of vaccine has arrived

  3. Sylvia from California says:

    There seems to be a total lack of concern around the legal and or moral ramifications of dispensing medical advice and/or medical information on Twitter. I think this is a stretch….. I for one would never look to “Twitter” as an authoritative site for medical advice….. I take what I read on social networks in general with a grain of salt……

  4. Philip Powers says:

    But what about HIPAA? Some of the uses above may have patient privacy violations, since twitter is a public service….

  5. Carol Katarsky says:

    @Sylvia, Phillip: None of the uses listed above (or in Phil Baumann’s original article) would require giving out *individual* medical advice, so HIPAA wouldn’t apply. As Rebecka noted above, sharing updates on clinics, service hours, etc. is the ideal type of use.

  6. What a great idea and explanation. I would have never thought to do this, but then again, that


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