Meeting of the healthcare tweets explored

A recent Kaiser Permanente analysis hung up on three characters — no more, no less — regards the social hash-out of healthcare-related topics across industries, attempting to quantify and track “American Voices — Aligned for Health.”

Researchers data-delved into physician, Congressional and journalistic Twitter health statistics raked together by marketing firm WCG in December 2012. The tweets of approximately 3,200 physicians, 458 members of the 112th U.S. Congress and 154 journalists with various trade backgrounds, were examined by WCG and Kaiser affiliates as a means to understand the types of health information pertinent to each group.

Key findings were as follows:

All information courtesy of Kaiser Permanente and WCG. Presentation by PhysBizTech.

Also, according to the report, links to 218,934 online articles and posts came from physician tweets, 71,606 online articles and posts emerged within Congressional samplings and 36,300 online articles and posts originated from journalists. “Overall, the online data showed that physicians prioritized health education, while media were more focused on the business of health, and Members of Congress discussed the legislative, judicial and administrative policies of health,” a Kaiser report summarized.

In light of the analysis, a panel comprised of representatives from physician, health media, policy and patient realms will speak Feb. 26 at the “American Voices — Aligned for Health” event, a meeting aimed at discussing strategies that would better synchronize online health conversations to provide the most fruitful public impact.     

"The analysis found that physicians talked a tremendous amount about non-pharmaceutical treatment interventions, including health tips and lifestyle medicine, whereas health reporters focused significantly more on new drug approvals and milestones," said Robert M. Pearl, MD, executive director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, in a news release. "We're not saying that we should listen to one or the other or suggesting that any of the groups is right or wrong — all are appropriately focused on different aspects of healthcare for legitimate reasons. However, it's our belief and hope that effectively aligning key influencers around the health stories that are most beneficial for the American public could improve health literacy and, ultimately, our nation's overall health."

“Nearly eight out of ten health seekers use a search engine when researching health issues online,” added Rahul K. Parikh, MD, FAAP, (@parikhmd), Associate Physician-in-Chief, The Permanente Medical Group. “Performing these types of searches can lead people down a path that may reassure them, but they can also confuse and even scare people. It is the responsibility of all physicians using social media to deliver accurate and easy-to-understand information so that consumers can make informed decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones. Social media offers the physician community a great opportunity to share knowledge, but it is essential that we are thoughtful in how we use this communication channel to contribute to the health and well-being of the general public."

Find more WCG data on physician social media trends here.