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Twitter and Hospitals

I recently presented on Social Media and Cloud Computing at the New England Library Association conference in Boxboro, MA and was surprised at how often I was asked to demonstrate Twitter.

Twitter was created in 2006 as a means for keeping up-to-date on what friends and family are doing. It is a web-based, microblog, allowing users to send out posts (or Tweets). These tweets are text-based, though you can also send out images, and are limited to 140 characters.

Though Michael Liedtke, an AP Technology Writer, once described it as “a potluck of pithy self-expression simmering with whimsy, narcissism, voyeurism, hucksterism, tedium and sometimes useful information” , Twitter has become a means for important news and updates to be disseminated quickly.

The Boston Police Department ( sends out tweets on the latest police activity, for example, “STOLEN VEHICLE: Box truck containing oxygen tanks, MA Com. Reg L10253, in John Elliot Sq Roxbury about 30 minutes ago.”

News organizations such as CNN and the BBC tweet. CNN, in fact, has multiple Twitter accounts: and are just two of their eight or so accounts. They not only use Twitter to post news items but search it to scoop breaking news.

The very first announcement of a Continental Airlines 737 sliding off the runway in Denver on December 20th, 2008 came via a passenger’s Twitter post.

You might remember the famous miracle landing on the Hudson?
The first picture of the floating airplane was supplied, not by CNN or emergency personnel, but posted on Twitter by a ferry passenger whose boat diverted to the accident scene before emergency crews arrived. The passenger used his cell phone to take the picture and post it to his Twitter account.

You might be asking what this has to do with you, as Librarians in the Health field. There are a number of hospitals using Twitter to communicate, whether it’s posting news on health concerns or advertising fund raising events.  In fact, back in 2009, surgeons at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit actually tweeted every step of an operation.

Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital ( ) , Stanford Hospital in California ( ), and locally, Children’s Hospital in Boston ( ) are just a hand-full of hospitals posting medical and hospital information through Twitter.

If you wish to see other hospitals and health professionals using Twitter:

Children’s Hospital | Nashville, TN

Florida Hospital | Central Florida

Methodist Hospital | Houston, Texas

MS Hospital Assoc. | Madison, MS

Children’s Hospital | Denver-metro area, Colorado

Erlanger Hospital | Chattanooga, TN

Children’s Hospital | Central California

Children’s Hospital | Oakland, California

Ohio Hospital Assoc | Columbus, OH

To read Michael Liedtke’s full article “Can all that Twitters turn to gold amid the gloom?”, go to:

If you wish to learn more about Twitter, you can request my “Tweets, Tweeps, and Twitter” workshop.


rita.gavelis at

phone: 978-662-2119.

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