As an information network Twitter is a tool that can be used to increase health literacy. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Title V, defines health literacy as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.
Why is health literacy important?
Research indicates that nearly “9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using the everyday health information that is routinely available in health care facilities, retail outlets, media, and communities.Limited health literacy is associated with poorer health outcomes and higher health care costs.”
Twitter information network allows health organizations to provide health education via their tweets. Here is an example of a recent tweet posted by Harvard School of Public Health.
UC Berkeley School of Public Health also provides health education that is easy to understand. Here is a recent tweet.
What do the hashtags mean?
Hashtags allow Twitterers to discuss issues and mark and organizes posts. On Twitter, hashtags appear in the “Trending” section, and people interested in sharing their thoughts can use them to reach out to others. If used strategically and with authenticity hashtags can help organizations increase their number of followers and the tweet re-posts. Following the hashtag etiquette, less is more, as explained in the book Social Media for Social Good, can avoid being perceived as a hashtag spammer. When using hashtags, it is important to use no more than a single hashtag per post on average. While it is sometimes appropriate to use two hashtags, using three or more is rarely wise. Follow this link for a beginners guide on using hashtags.
Web-based platforms such as Symplur provides hashtag information around the topic of health care. Below is the report they offer for public health hashtags Tweet activity.