#hcsm #hcsmeu #hcsmca etc. – Twitter discussions on health and social media

A few months ago, the meaning of this: #hcsm, #hcsmeu of #hcsmca would have been the greatest mystery to me. I now know of course that they are hashtags(#) for Twitter discussions on topics under the umbrella of health care and social media.

The concept is similar to that of the Twitter Journal Clubs. Once a week at a given time a discussion on an before hand agreed topic takes place. All who are interested are welcome to participate. All they have to do is be online, have a Twitter account and through tweets equiped with the appropriate hashtag share their views, opionons, articles etc. These kinds of discussions exits on a million topics I am sure. In this blog, I will write about a few of the most likely many health related Twitter discussions.

#hcsm is as mentioned above a discussion forum for health care and social media. it is focused on a global conversation, but there are several subgroups each focused on for example a specific geographical area such as Europe: #hcsmeu, Latin America: #hcsmla, Canada: #hcsmca and more.

I admit, that I have not yet been an active contributor to the scheduled discussions, but do enjoy the amazing thing about Twitter discussion: the open format and that everyone can follow it, also after it has taken place. In order to get myself a better overview of the #hcsm’s I have come across until now I thought I’d just list them here. Mostly as a help to myself, but perhaps it would also be useful to others too. Therefore the blog format.

#hcsm – Healthcare Communications & Social Media

#hcsm seems to have been the ‘original’ hcsm. It is a weekly chat on Twitter held every Sunday night at 8pm Central Time. It was established in January 2009 as a way to bring individuals together to discuss health care and communications and social media – including doctors, patients, lawyers, communicators, for-profits, non-profits, hospitals, health systems, insurers, and many more. The topic for each chat is decided by a moderator but based on suggestions from the participants which can be tweeted to @HealthSocMed. On the website it is possible to watch past live #hcsm streams (eg. October 23). The questions/topics cover a quite wide arrange of issues. Sometimes it is broad questions like “Which disease/condition is receiving the most resources/attention/support via SM? Why? How can we reach more patients? But others are much more narrow: “Advanced speech recognition (ie Siri for iPhones) is here – should automated health Q&As be monitored?”. The relevance to Public Health Science Communication varies a lot of course. The main focus is health care and the role of patients. But sometimes the discussion topics s are indeed very Public Health relevant, eg. “How do you prevent spread of misinformation during crises? How do you educate public to know who/what to trust online?”

#hcsm has a website/blog and Twitter hashtag.

#hcsmeu – Healthcare Social Media in Europe

#hcsmeu is a community of EU healthcare blogger, twitterers and social media users. They describe themselves as a space for all healthcare enthusiasts to meet and converse, to  post and share events, projects and initiatives within social media healthcare.The main focus is patient centered. The mission is to help drive forward the adaptation of social media can improve quality, access, value and effectiveness of health care delivery to patients. The hope is to increase the empowerment of patients in health prevention and disease recovery. #hcsmeu convene at noon UK time / 1pm central European time every Friday for a Twitter discussion of health care and social media.

#hcsmeu has a website/blog, a Twitter hashtag, are on Facebook and LinkedIn.

In addition to the general hcsm for Europe, a number of countries have their own #hcsm discussions. These include France (#hcsmeufr in French), Spain (#hcsmeues in Spanish), Austria (only own website, uses #hcsmeu) and UK (#hcsmuk also has a daily collection of links)



#hcsmca – Healthcare Social Media in Canada

I thought I’d also just list #hcsmca, since Canadian Universities seem to be very much one of the frontrunners in linking public health and social media. Health Care Social Media Canada a was inspired by the success of #hcsm and #hcsmeu. Like the bigger #hcsm, Healthcare Social Media Canada also hosts a weekly tweet chat which takes place on Wednesdays at 1pm EST. Again, the focus is primarily on the patient and relation between patient and health care provider. Transcripts of past chats in can be found in a Transcripts Collection where the content of  is searchable. The #hcsmca also has monthly meetups across Canada where the participants can meet in person.

#hcsmca have website/blog and can be found on Facebook and LinkedIn.

#hcsmanz – Health Care Social Media Australia and New Zealand [added to this blog 27. October 2011]

#hcsmanz is Australia and New Zealand’s version of #hcsm discussion groups. It is of course primarily aimed at interested professionals working with health related issues in Australia and New Zealand. The concept is the same with a weekly discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #hcsmanz. The discussion takes place every Sunday evening on Twitter at 22:00NZ, 20:00AEDT, 19:00AEST, 19:30ACDT, 17:00AWST. Transcripts from the discussion are available here. See the below comment to this blog post to read more about the #hcsmanz’s discussions and the main areas of focus which is influenced by the large distances and geographically layout of e.g. Australia, why rural health and equity is a common theme for the discussions.

#hcsmanz can be found on Facebook and there is a The #hcsmanz Daily collecting the relevant links shared via the hashtag.

#hcsmla – Health Care Social Media Latin America [added to this blog 27. October 2011]

#hcsmla covers Latin America and is naturally a discussion conducted in Spanish mainly. It started with a beta version in November 2010 and is therefore approaching its one year anniversary. As my Spanish skills are still not strong enough to read and follow discussions I encourage you to visit www.hcsmla.com. The concept is the same with a weekly discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #hcsmla. The discussions take place every Tuesday evening (for the specific time check the website). Transcripts from the discussion are available from there website.

#hcsmla can be found on Facebook and on their website/blog.

#hcsmasia – Health Care Social Media Asia [added to this blog 27. October 2011]

Also Asia have their geographic twitter discussion on health care and social media under the #hcsmasia. It is used for people interested in following news, blogs, and tweets regarding  healthcare information in Asia and  the use of the internet and Social Media. The concept is the same with a weekly discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #hcsmasia. #hcsmasia has a monthly twitter chat every first Tuesday of the month at 9 pm JPT. Based on a quick view tt does not seem to be as actively used as many of the other #hcsms, but is also one of the most recent having been establish in February 2011.

#hcsmasia can be found on Facebook and on their website.

#hcsmglobal – Health Care Social Media Global [added to this blog 27. October 2011]

In addition to regional hcsms there is a discussion group that calls itself #hcsmglobal. They tweet under the hashtag #hcsmglobal and aim to bring together people from different chapters health care social media discussions happening to discuss once a month. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out exactly when these monthly discussions take place, so follow the hashtag.

#hcsmglobal can be found on Facebook, their website and there is a The #hcsmglobal Daily collecting the relevant links shared via the hashtag.

#hcsmse Health Care Social Media Sweden [added to this blog 21. November 2011]

A brand new hcsm in Europe had its first pilot chat this month. #hcsmse from Sweden is know facilitating discussions in Swedish on Fridays from 12-1pm. A transcript from the first #hcsmse discussion is available online. Also a Wikimap of the discussion can be found. The first discussion was in Swedish (and Danish), and the questions up for discussion are posed in Swedish. Comments in English are however also welcomed by the moderators. So don’t hold back in joining the discussion.

@hcsmse do not yet have a facebook presence or seperate website, but news about it is posted on www.stockholm-life.se.

Lots of other social media and Twitter based discussion groups out there

There are lots and lots of other hashtags, discussion forums out there. It is really quite a jungle. For me it is a little bit trial and error to find out which ones are relevant for me to follow. #hitsm (Health IT Social Media) is for example sometimes interesting to follow, but also quite heavily IT focused. I have earlier blogged about the Twitter Journal Clubs which are also examples of Twitter forums for discussions of public health related issues in a virtual discussion group. As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn also have many groups for linking and raising discussions on public health issues. The possibilities are enormous, so I guess it is mostly a question of trying it out and find out which groups suits one’s needs.

Why use #hcsm, #hcsmeu or #hcsmca when you are on Twitter?

Apart from the scheduled discussions which many of these Twitter discussions groups have, it is also possible to use the hashtags outside the discussions when you are writing about something relevant to the topic health care communication & social media. So why should you do that? Well #hcsmca have listed some of the reasons, which I take the liberty of sharing with the rest of you in a slightly moderated version

  • Share and inform: Tell others about the great stuff you’ve read or are doing.
  • Broadcast good stuff: Don’t be shy. If you’ve got something you want to get out there, leverage the #hcsm/#hcsmca/#hcsmeu communities and the get the word out about your new initiative, your latest blog post or an upcoming conference or event.
  • Ask questions: Adding #hcsm/#hcsmca/#hcsmeu to your question lets you tap into the collective intelligence of a community that is further reaching than any single set of followers.
  • Request participation: If you’re looking for people to contribute comments, opinions or ideas, the Twitter discussion groups gives easy access to a broad range of people
  • Expand your network: Participate in #hcsm/#hcsmca/#hcsmeu conversations any time and find people you want to follow and be found by others. This could be a way to connect with people you would normally not have access to
  • Twitter filter: Use it as a Twitter filter to make sure that tweets are relevant to your area of interest
  • Stay current: Get to know of new articles, initiative, projects, news quickly

I am trying to find the balance of which to follow and it is in the beginning a little time-consuming, but interesting indeed and a world one should be aware of. There are lots of people and insights to be found.

From a baker’s shop to Twitter: a new Public Health Journal Club emerges

The world is now a public health journal club richer! And this is a club not restricted to people in a specific university, from a particular workplace or with a special diploma. Everyone is free to actively join or follow it from the sidelines. Inspired by the first Twitter Journal Club, which focuses on research in clinical medicine, a Public Health Twitter Journal Club has now been set up.

The concept is just as for a regular journal club. It is a group of individuals who meet regularly to critically evaluate recent articles in scientific literature. Journal clubs are usually organized around a defined subject, in this case Public Health. The clubs are commonly used by students. They can help students become more familiar with the advanced literature in their new field of study and improve the their skills of understanding and debating current topics of active interest in their field. But also for non-students is a good way to keep up with the literature and developments within one’s academic field.

Sir James PagetDiscovering this new journal club made me wonder when the first journal clubs saw daylight. According to Wikipedia a British surgeon, Sir James Paget was the first to describe a group at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London in the mid-19th century as “a kind of club … a small room over a baker’s shop near the Hospital-gate where we could sit and read the journals.”

Sir William OslerThe first formalized journal club was supposedly established by a Sir William Osler at McGill University in Montreal i 1875, with the original purpose as follows  “for the purchase and distribution of periodicals to which he could ill afford to subscribe.”

I wonder what Sir James and Sir William would say about this new journal club on Twitter. At least William Osler should be happy about the chance to discuss scientific article with colleagues around the world without having to use money for travel. And he would probably applaud that The Public Health Twitter Journal Club gives priority to articles published in open-access journals.

If you are not familiar with the concept of a Twitter journal club a “how it works” can be read at the original Twitter Journal Club. A quick recap is also given here. With a Twitter account everyone is free to follow the Twitter journal club chat. To follow and contribute to the discussion use the #PHTwitJC hashtag in your tweets. By searching for this in Twitter you can follow the discussion and contribute your self by adding the hashtag to you comments. The discussion takes place for about an hour at an agreed time. The people behind the journal club suggests discussions points to guide the talk. Soon after the discussion a transcript of the discussion and a summary can be found at the journal club website.

Launched 18 July 2011, so far only one article have been discussed. A BMJ article Impact of calorie labelling on fast food purchases. The article to be discussed next time is up for a vote. Everyone can make their voice heard and vote for one of the suggested articles or come up with other recommendations.

Having just gone on-air the Public Health Twitter Journal Club t is still new and knowledge of its existence limited (to date 132 are following it on Twitter). But as more and more public health people hopefully become acquainted with it and actively takes part in it, it can provide the basis for interesting public health discussions. A chance to conduct post-peer-review and perhaps expand ones network. And who knows perhaps the author will take part in the discussion or at least read it afterwards. The later being one of the added values of a Twitter journal club compared to the closed journal clubs that takes place inside buildings, classrooms or perhaps above a baker’s shop.

That the concept of a Twitter-based journal club seem to be catching on is seen from the succesful original Twitter Journal Club (focused on research in clinical medicine), but also by other journal clubs that a popping up. An Astronomy Journal Club on Twitter have for example so far attract lots of followers that are eager to discuss articles and academic papers on astronomy and astrophysics.

I myself have not yet participated in a Twitter Journal Club, but I look forward to expericing discussions where each comment, statement, view point is limited to 140 characters. It really forces the participant to be precis.