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Health twits

Twitter, the social network on which about 1,300 people follow HSJ’s news updates, introduced a new function for most of its users last month.

For the first time they can group other users together in a list (the function is called lists) and see all those users’ tweets (messages) together in one place. Importantly, users can share their lists - so others can easily look at all those tweets in one place too.

It means that users can be grouped together by the subject they talk about. People interested in the subject can follow the list and find out what those involved, and others with an interest, are thinking and doing.

Lists help you quickly collect information on one topic, similar to searching Google News for “NHS” or following a group of health-related RSS news feeds.

As an example Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust has been put in several healthcare themed lists, one of academic-related organisations and two about local Oxford information. If people are reading the lists (which shouldn’t be taken for granted) that will allow the trust to communicate better with at least three different audiences. For more explanation, look elsewhere.

Dozens of lists related to health have already been set up, but most are US-dominated and focus on personal health.

NHS Choices, the NHS Institute and the ever-enterprising NHS Birmingham East and North have all started lists of NHS organisations, with most comprehensive so far from @NHSConfed_Niall at the NHS Confederation. Emap colleague @VicThompson has set up a list of health news sources.

I’ve put together some broader but still UK specific health lists:

  • UK health - general UK health including professional groups, charities, unions, patient groups, consultants, health journalists and more.
  • UK health NHS - NHS organisations and people working in the NHS. I haven’t looked for UK doctors as there are plenty on Twitter and I’m assuming someone will come up with a good list. (@amcunningham has a fledgling one already)
  • UK health IT and comms - Both are well represented on Twitter for obvious reasons, and from what I have found so far there is lots of crossover. For example, people are talking about how to use IT such as Twitter for communicating.

I haven’t seen any lists doing the same thing yet, so I’m hoping they will be helpful for anyone wanting to follow UK health. Any tips on how they should be broken down (or joined together) and Twitter users who should be added, are very welcome to @Davewwest or via list listings website Listorious.

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