Who to follow on Twitter within your medical specialty

So you have finally created a Twitter account for your medical practice and are ready to take on the world of healthcare social media, but what’s the next step? Creating the account was a great milestone (which should be celebrated!), but that was the easy part of your twitter creation process. We see a lot of abandoned medical Twitter accounts that never get past that first milestone. Here are some useful next action steps you want to take for your medical group’s presence on twitter.


Follow thought leaders and trusted authorities within your medical field

No one except you knows better where to look to for trusted information within your medical specialty. For years you have followed them in the offline world, the printed world, and you now look for them in the world of healthcare social media.

  • Twitter is a jungle, the “Healthcare Hashtag Project” will help jump start healthcare professionals’s social media engagement and guide them to the right people and #hashtags. The goal of this project is to make the use of Twitter more accessible for providers and the healthcare community as a whole. By lowering the learning curve of Twitter with a database of relevant hashtags to follow, they hope to help new and existing users alike to find the conversations that are of interest and importance to them.
  • Start at the websites of your favorite medical journals. Many have already created a presence on Twitter.
  • Industry organizations exist for the purpose of spreading their ideas and influencing decision makers. If they are not already on Twitter, it’s time to reconsider your membership. Look for their Twitter accounts.
  • Every medical specialty has a few more or less “famous medical groups“. These medical groups are known for their best practices on several areas of practice management. Perhaps they are also a “best practice” example in medical social media?
  • All physicians have been given a set of amazing talents. Some doctors are exceptional communicators. You probably know who they are within your industry. Look for these innovators on Twitter.
  • Academic centers that focus on your specialty should be on your “follow list”. Sometimes they do not have a single official twitter account. Find the academic professionals that make up these centers–the researchers, the professors, etc. Remember to also look outside our borders. You might want to take a look at Europe, Canada, or any number of other countries as social media has created fascinating world-wide communities.
  • ePatients have a very strong voice in healthcare social media. Politicians and media are often the first to respond to ideas and issues set forth by these very vocal patients. Follow these thought leaders and you’ll know what to expect in the future.
  • Media and news organizations. In addition to medical journals, you should look for news organizations that either have a focus on your specialty or automatically aggregate news for it from multiple news sources.


Who are the thought leaders following?

After exhausting your own knowledge using the list above, it’s time to look at who these thought leaders follow themselves.

  • Take a look at the Twitter profile of these thought leaders. Do you spot some industry organizations, academic centers, journals, physicians you overlooked in your initial search?
  • Save yourself some time and ignore those who follow thousands of twitter users as a result of their useless “you follow me, I’ll follow you” policy. You want to look at the lists of the “curators” of your industry.


Using tools to find your medical specialty “tweeps”

  • Have you discovered that the people you follow are tagging their tweets with hashtags like “#hcr” or “#hcsm” and want to know what they mean? The Healthcare Hashtag Project will not only let you know their meaning, but it will also give you a convenient list of the most active users for these hashtags and other related hashtags–A great way to discover social media influencers.
  • Twitter has just launched a feature that might be of help to you in your search. There’s now an algorithm that will find and suggest who you should follow based on who you already are following.
  • search.twitter.com enables you to search for people using keywords, real names, location etc.
  • wefollow.com is currently the most used twitter directory. Search using your specialty as the tag. For example: Searching for “orthopedics” gives you a list of 35+ Twitter users.



Following these actions should be a great kick-starter for your medical practice’s twitter profile.

There are many ways to go about finding the right people to follow. Let me know if you have additional ideas or comments!

Audun Utengen

Audun Utengen - @audvin

Sharing research from the Healthcare Social Graph®. Co-founder, CEO of @symplur. Advisor to @MayoClinicSMN. ❤️ #Parkinsons, #Schizophrenia, #PancreaticCancer