A Doctor's Opinion: Why I Started Microblogging on Twitter

As a subscriber of Ev Williams' blog (the founder of Blogger.com), I first heard about Twitter some time ago, a year or two after he left Google. Ev started Twitter with Biz Stone, and I tried the service soon after its launch but "didn't get it." There was too much noise -- too many updates with little valuable information. Twitter looked like a useless distraction at the time.

Combined Feed of Doctors-Twitters

It wasn't until Joshua Schwimmer launched his combined feed of physicians-twitters that I started to think about using Twitter again. Checking the mini posts was not only fun but also potentially useful. Doctors and medical librarians (my other favorite group of bloggers) are busy and often do not have time for long posts. The 140 characters on Twitter are enough to share some interesting bits of information that otherwise would have gone unpublished.

This CommonCraft video explains what a microblogging platform is by using Twitter as an example.

Twitter Patient Reminders

In addition, Twitter may be useful as a daily/weekly reminder to patients with chronic conditions. For example, an allergist can remind his patients with allergic rhinitis of the high pollen counts in late June. Or a cardiologist can text his patients about the findings of a new study. It only takes a doctor's cell phone and patients willing to subscribe to his/her Twitter feed.

News Breaks First on Twitter

Those above are just a few preliminary ideas but it looks like Twitter may not only be fun to use but actually useful. Many A-list tech bloggers have noticed that the news breaks first on Twitter and FriendFeed -- before CNN, and definitely before the evening news. I seldom watch TV nowadays but I have 4 computers that are (potentially) connected 24/7: desktop, laptop, UMPC and MotoQ.

Follow Me On Twitter

It looks like I am one of the newest twitters from the medical blogosphere, following in the footsteps of many others. "ClinicalCases" user name on Twitter was already taken, so I chose "AllergyNotes." You can follow me here: http://twitter.com/allergynotes

Twitter is the Present Day Virtual Doctors Lounge

If you don't use Twitter, you will miss stuff like that:


It's profoundly weird that Alex, the synthesized Mac voice, pauses occasionally to *inhale.*

Playing with a completely blind Boston Terrier, but you can't tell, since he sees with his nose.

"I AM ALIVE!" he cried out after being twice defibrillated.

When your to-do-lists themselves require a to-do-list, that's your system's way of telling you to file half your tasks in someday/maybe.

If you have 6 containers of water on your tray, you aren't fluid restricted. I don't care what the sign says.

A pale morning, with central park trees reflecting in the fogged glass cube of the apple store."

Twitter is the present day virtual doctors' lounge. If you want to really know how doctors think, you don't have to read Jerome Groopman's books with the same name -- follow the doctors on Twitter.


Blogging, Microblogging and Facebook
Text messaging can help young people manage asthma. How about Twitter and Facebook reminders?
Doctors and Medical Students on Twitter. Kidney Notes.
Eavesdrop on Doctors and Medical Students on Twitter. Kidney Notes.
We're connecting - and wasting time - on Twitter. Mercury News, 06/2008.
So You Want to Microblog (Twitter) With Your Students? Academhack.
Beginner's Guide To Using Twitter. WebGuild.org.

Related reading:

How to make money from Twitter. AllergyNotes.
Twitter badge for Blogger. Blogger Buzz.
Twitter. UBC Health Library Wiki.
Twitter, What Are You Doing? Co-Founder Tells All. NPR.
The Doctor's Room on FriendFeed. Joshua Schwimmer.
10 Reasons Why I Use Twitter. ScienceRoll, 11/2008.
Why I Love Twitter by Tim O'Reilly, 11/2008.
"One of the best decisions I’ve made in my career was to start a blog and a wiki, leaving a paper trail of ideas" http://bit.ly/GX7Z6C


  1. mmh, seems the yahoo pipe for the combined twitter feed is broken somehow ... or is that just me?

  2. mmmh , working again

  3. Thanks for the best-of-list, Ves.

    Also try http://feeds.feedburner.com/doctorsontwitter. I'm also experimenting with adding the posts to FriendFeed at www.friendfeed.com/rooms/doctors.