by Dr Mark Taubert, Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Clinical Director for Palliative Medicine at Velindre NHS Trust, Cardiff, UK. Twitter: @DrMarkTaubert
Finding the conversations that interest you most on Twitter can either be easy or difficult, depending on the complexity of what you are looking for. For instance, if you want to know what conversations are taking place in palliative care in general, the hashtag #hpm can provide all the news you need (see more in our recent blog here).
But start looking for more intricate complex detail, such as discussions on decisions regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation and any research development in that area, and it can become more challenging to find search terms that are as all-encompassing. You may find some general information, but if you miss the ‘correct’ hashtag, you may see nothing of a conference that is discussing this matter live, simply because the conference hashtag is an abbreviation that has on first glance little to do with the terms you are typing into the search engine.
A few apps and social media projects are now trying to connect as many dots as possible, to help target searches more accurately for all of us. One such platform is Symplur. Their Healthcare Hashtag Project aims to connect everyone and anyone in healthcare more efficiently and without missing too many gaps. Symplur describe themselves as “empowering decision-making with real-time access to insights from over a billion healthcare social media data points. Symplur Signals is a web-based platform that invites an unparalleled voyage deep into the analytics of global (Twitter) conversations swirling around the topic of healthcare.”
The aim is to do more than just passively observe healthcare conversations on the social web, but to dig deeply; recognizing trends, gaps, and business, research or social opportunities. This could be particularly valuable for early researchers, who are wanting targeted questions for a topic they are interested in, and have done exhaustive literature searches already; it can help them connect with those people and organizations who have similar interests and similar questions, and this can help redefine the area under observation. Or it may even help in getting some funding!
More on the Symplur Healthcare Social Project can be found here. http://www.symplur.com/blog/healthcare-hashtags-social-project/
And for information on palliative care trends, influencers and hashtags, you can find the top hits here. http://www.symplur.com/topic/palliative-care/
Hashtags are listed in alphabetical order and not by popularity, although this data is also available. You can even submit hashtags to your field of interest. Hashtags listed on 16/08/2015 when we took a look, for instance, were #ANZSPM15 (Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine) and #HPMAfrica.
There is even a top hitters table (!) on the big influencers in palliative care. Sadly, but appropriately, yours truly is not on there, but there is still time to post a few interesting palliative care topics, as this is likely to remain a topical field for a very long time. Maybe see you in that list one day if you’ve read this far! Ollie, Matt?