For several years after its founding, I actively resisted joining Twitter. I though the microblogging site was narcissistic in the extreme. Who cares what you as an individual are thinking or doing at this exact moment in time? I completely misunderstood the power of the tweet.
Living in San Francisco, several wise friends and colleagues showed me how Twitter can serve as a personal news feed, connecting you quickly to news and information that is relevant, timely, and interesting. I finally joined a few years ago and haven’t looked back.
Yes, Twitter. Seriously.
Twitter can sometimes be overwhelming, particularly if you follow a wide variety of people and organizations across multiple sectors. I’m going to focus here on the health policy community, a subset of public health and an interesting subgenre of health news. I love using Twitter to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of health policy. There are five sources I find particularly helpful, and that I retweet often or send directly to people I know would appreciate the content. Anyone who wants to stay informed about public health and health policy news should be following these folks – and retweeting their content when appropriate!
All those listed below post regularly. As Heather Mansfield notes in her excellent handbook, Social Media for Social Good, the ideal use of Twitter for organizations is around four to six tweets per day. These all fit that rubric (Wall Street Journal tweets that amount of original content, with quite a few additional retweets of interest). If you follow these folks and read their tweets regularly, you will get both a variety of timely information as well as a robust portrait of the current state of U.S. health policy.
Your Health Policy Follow List:
Kaiser Health News
Kaiser Health News, not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente, is a news organization following health policy and politics. Not surprisingly, they are tweeting a lot about the Affordable Care Act, court rulings related to it, and health insurance right now.
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation “working toward a high performance health system.” They conduct a lot of original research and frequently post links to their own material, available free on the web. They often share charts and graphics, which is a nice touch on text- and link-heavy Twitter.
Traditional journalism about current health policy news, as well as relevant op-eds and editorials. Be aware that the Wall Street Journal has a pay wall for their content online, so you’ll only be able to see an abstract of the article if you click their links, unless you have a subscription.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to promoting the public’s health. It makes significant grants across the country to fund innovative programs, and often tweets about its grantees’ success. Its Twitter feed is a great source of new ideas and information about up and coming ideas and methods. They also retweet some great content.
And, as a special bonus, I’ve included one of my favorite individuals who tweets about health policy and public health news.
Dr. Kellermann is the Dean of the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. He is an excellent source of pertinent, interesting articles, and he does a great job of adding his own take on the issues succinctly.