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Twitter tweet chats on the examining table: #hcsm

October 13, 2010

hcsm_logoIt is high-time that I get one of the first health-related tweet chats up on the examining table – #hcsm (Healthcare Communications Social Media).

Who knew that when #hcsm first hit the “airways” on Twitter back in January 2009 it would not only create an active community above and beyond a hashtag or a mere chat, but also encourage the creation of #hcsm geo-chapters worldwide. But, I get ahead of myself.

#hcsm was founded by Dana M. Lewis, a health & digital strategist. While #hcsm tweet chats take place every Sunday evening at 9 pm EST, the community members regularly contribute to the hashtag throughout the week exchanging resources, making announcements, connecting colleagues and crowd-sourcing information.

Dana LewisI interviewed Dana to find out more about #hcsm’s beginnings and where things are heading as its second anniversary approaches.

For me #hcsm is the venerable senior of health-related tweets. Were there others out there that you used to model #hcsm or were you delving into new territory?

Dana Lewis: There were a few chats on Twitter at that time, but none that focused on health care or a really niche topic. This was definitely new territory! Luckily, there were a great group of people who played a big role in the #hcsm chats and continue to be very involved from week to week to help give the community some consistency.

What motivated you to start #hcsm?

DL: It was a simple as the desire to have a conversation about health care and communications. I know both from personal and professional perspectives that communication can make an incredible impact and difference in healthcare delivery. Twitter seemed an obvious tool for our conversations because we could aggregate ideas using a hashtag and also allow people to find and join the conversation without too many barriers that are often present in real-world (or offline) communities.

What unexpected benefit(s) or outcomes have you seen from #hcsm?

DL: An incredible, rich, and rewarding community. #hcsm started as a weekly chat but quickly evolved into a community – and some say an industry. But #hcsm is nothing without the people who join and contribute to the conversation each and every week! I highly value the relationships that I and other participants have had the opportunity to build and grow both online and offline.

Which healthcare stakeholders typically take part in the #hcsm conversations? Is any group under-represented?

DL: Anyone who is interested in health care and communications is welcome to join – and they do! We have doctors, lawyers, marketers, and communicators like PR folks, students, patients, IT experts, and many more. It’s hard to keep track of the exact numbers of each group because due to the flexibility of the community and each individual’s schedule, their participation ebbs and flows over time. I’d say we’re all under-represented outside of the #hcsm community and need to do our part to sustain the Sunday night conversations throughout the week in the ‘real world’.

How would you like to see #hcsm evolve?

DL: As you know, #hcsm differs around the world. I’m thrilled to see what we call “geo-chapters” continuing to develop the ideas of HCSM all around the world, from #hcsmEU to your new #hcsmCA. I’d also love to see #hcsm continue to bring unique and diverse perspectives in health care to the conversation and overall continue to improve health care through our communication efforts.

This Twitter chat series also appears on doc2doc blogs.

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