Hashtags have changed the way we communicate online. They are extremely useful for spreading news about important initiatives, calling attention to amazing people and stories and forging new relationships. (Wondering what a hashtag is?)
At their root, hashtags are about education. They keep a wide, largely unknown audience informed. Many health educators have realized it's a useful way to expand health promotion efforts.
Here are three powerful ways some organizations and individuals are using hashtags to improve health in their communities.
Funding is almost always stretched too thin, which makes it difficult to afford the entry fee—much less travel costs—of conferences. The pity is this is where many health educators pickup training, exchange ideas and learn about policy changes.
Thankfully, many health conferences have hashtags. Following a conference online isn't as good as being there in person, but it's a whole lot cheaper. It's also still a good way to pick up new ideas and network with people who attend.
For example, @shawngross is going to HIMISS health and IT conference in Orlando. This tweet with #HIMSS17 shows other people who will be going, who the speakers are and other people who are interested in the event.
Rounding up like-minded advocates is an extremely powerful way to use hashtags. By grouping like-minded individuals together around a cause, health educators can make a difference, like in this example about #gunviolence from the American Journal of Public Health (@AMJPublicHealth).
Keeping up with issues around public health and education depends on monitoring trends. These change quickly, but they're easier to follow with a few helpful hashtags. Here are a few than can be helpful for finding out what's happening in healthcare and education.
- #hcsm: This hashtag for healthcare communications social media is a way to follow what's happening in health care around the world.
- #FOAMed: This is an initiative from Free Open Access Meducation (FOAM), which is a call to share medical education materials globally.
- #mhealth: News and developments in mobile health are tracked in this hashtag. It's a fascinating look at how health educators are spreading news with mobile media.