So, I did it. I tweeted. (My children will be so proud.) In addition to all the buzz about meaningful use, ICD-10, accountable care organizations, mHealth, and the like, Twitter took the stage at the 2011 HIMSS conference and exhibition. The conference organizers set up a Social Media Center where newbies like me could go online, set up a Twitter account, and send tweets to those following the show using the hashtag #HIMSS11. To be honest, I had actually set up an account several weeks ago but never used it. I felt better when I heard former HIMSS president John Glaser, Ph.D. tell an audience that he, too, had an account but had never actually “tweeted.” As he put it, he was waiting for the right thing to say.
So, what is the right thing to say on Twitter? I’ve been following the #HIMSS11 tweets, trying to understand how people are using the tool and to what advantage. By far, the majority of the tweets are designed to lure some of the 30,000 plus attendees to attend this session or visit that booth. Other tweets, primarily from HIMSS staff, provide useful information, such as where you can download session handouts (himssconference.org/handouts) or buy tickets to the Wednesday social event (or later to learn that the event is now sold out). Far fewer than I would have thought are from conference participants who want to share key insights from sessions they are attending. To me, that would be a valuable use of Twitter, especially given the sheer magnitude of things happening at HIMSS and the inability to attend everything of interest.
Then, finally, there were those tweets designed to remind people like me to get with the program. There I was, listening to Dr. Glaser talk about top technology trends in healthcare, dutifully taking notes with pen and paper (old reporter’s habits die hard), and watching the live tweets from the audience scroll across the bottom of his presentation. One in particular stood out. It read:
“Question? What is this paper thing that the guy next to me is writing on with a stick?”
I was relieved that the tweet referred to a “guy” and not a “gal,” but I must admit my next stop after the presentation was the social media center where I took the leap and tweeted.
So, were you at HIMSS, and if so, did you monitor or participate in the twitter activity? I would love to hear your perspectives on if and how the technology delivers value to you.