August 12th, 2010

Social Media in Health & Medicine (and Reference? Emergencies?)

It was a pleasure to participate in Highlight Health‘s hosting of Social Media in Health and Medicine, Medlibs Round 2.7. Thank you for an excellent compilation and presentation, Walter!

I’ve been talking about social media a lot here recently, I have just a few more updates related to social media then I’ll move on to other subjects.

Twitter as Government Agency Reference Source

I am encouraged by the step the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has taken by announcing they will monitor a hashtag, #findsamhsa, to assist people who are seeking information from their numerous helpful pamphlets and online resources. So far I haven’t seen where people have used the hashtag except in retweets, but the agency’s willingness to try this way to engage in assisting health information seekers is commendable. I’d suggest they include a blurb about it on their social media page though so others will know about this service after this scrolls off the immediate horizon from their Twitter posts. We already know how I feel about #pubmed so I won’t rehash that hashtag.

Increased Social Media Use in Emergencies – 74% of Those Posting Expect Help in 1 Hour

Everyone needs to review the report of a Red Cross survey released this week about the usage of social media in emergencies. Of course, the first step should always be to call your emergency services number (911 in the United States) but what if the phone lines are down? 1 in 5 of the 1,058 adult participants would try to get help via email, websites or social media.

What was particularly notable are the expectations people have when they use social media in this way, bold emphasis mine

Web users also have clear expectations about how first responders should be answering their requests. The survey showed that 69 percent said that emergency responders should be monitoring social media sites in order to quickly send help—and nearly half believe a response agency is probably already responding to any urgent request they might see.

And the survey respondents expected quick response to an online appeal for help—74 percent expected help to come less than an hour after their tweet or Facebook post.

and

More web users say they get their emergency information from social media than from a NOAA weather radio, government website or emergency text message system. One in five social media users also report posting eyewitness accounts of emergency events to their accounts.

The National Weather Service has taken a step in this direction by encouraging the use of the #wxreport hashtag for severe weather events… but the reality is you can’t preassign a hashtag to be used in an emergency. People will inherently create their own individual ones, the local social media community will reach a hive mind consensus on what it is, and onward it goes. From my perspective this is why agency social media channels need to build relationships so they are aware of who their audience is and what they are discussing, so in an emergency the agency will know what specific hashtag will be most useful to convey information to those who need it.

One Response to “Social Media in Health & Medicine (and Reference? Emergencies?)”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dave deBronkart, Nikki D.. Nikki D. said: Social media in health & medicine medlibs round on Highlight Health (tks @wjjessen) w/usage for reference & emergencies http://bit.ly/aS7DoW [...]

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