Physician Assistants in Social Media – Part 3: Networking with Twitter Hashtags, Twitter Chats

The third in a four part series on Physician Assistants in Social Media. Part 3: Networking with Hashtags, Tweetchats

Twitter is a social media platform where conversations take place. Hashtags are a tool that health care professionals can use to promote their profession, discuss issues around health topics, and to build community with healthcare stake holders – whether thats other health care professionals, members of parliament, the Minister of Health, patients, patient advocacy groups and journalists.

Well this all sounds very wonderful, but where do you start? Let me introduce you to, the hashtag:

How do you use hashtags?

I touched briefly on this on my previous post on Part 2: How to Use Twitter. Twitter provides an excellent hashtag definition in their support centre:

Use hashtags to:

  • Follow Topics, Issues and Events regarding key words (e.g. #onpoli for Ontario Politics) which can be about events (e.g. #IMPACT2012 had tweets regarding American Academy of Physician Assistants Annual Conference in Toronto, ON), and issues on health care (#sdoh for social determinants of health)
  • Join Tweet Chats: There are some hashtags dedicated to not only topics, but are present for live, scheduled chats. Joining tweetchats allow those tweeting under a unique hashtag to meet and discuss regularly. This Google Doc outlines many tweet chats, when they take place, and who moderates those chats, and includes everything from entrepreneur chats, DIY crafts, college life and shopping tips. Likewise, there are many available for healthcare! For a list of Healthcare Tweetchats, see @symplur’s list of Healthcare Tweet Chats.e.g. One example includes: every Wednesday #hcsmca health care social media in Canada has a chat with a moderator and designated topic (see their most recent topic list) at 1 pm EST.
  • Create a Tweet Chat: If you are interested in taking initiative to host your own tweet chat, you can read Hustop’s 8 Steps to Hosting a Successful Twitter Chat.

How do you stay up to date with tweets you are interested in?

Tweets in different topics are constantly being updated, so how do you stay up to date with tweets that you are interested in? There are one of two ways I know of:

1 – Type the hashtag into the twitter’s website “search”, refresh the page occasionally or bookmark the search:

This does work, but can be cumbersome if you want to track multiple hashtags or health care topics.

2 – Use a Twitter Client to track multiple hashtags and twitter topics:  Download a twitter client (e.g. TweetDeck) and add a column that tracks the hashtags of your choice. Here are three hashtags (#hcsm, #onpoli, #cdnpoli) which I’m following on my own TweetDeck.

You may also choose use Simply sign in with your twitter account, and enter the hashtag that the twitter chat is using to enter the conversation. To find conversations, look at this list of TweetChats


What steps do you need to follow?

  1. Go to TweetDeck and download the client.
  2. After setup, select “Add Column
  3. Then select “Search
  4. Add the hashtag you wish to track, and press “Enter” then select “Add Column
  5. Now every time you log on to TweetDeck, you will see an updated list of tweets containing that hashtag in the new column you created!

What Hashtags can I use?

Hashtags to Start With:

  • #FollowFriday or #FF: On Friday’s, list a few users that you recommend your followers to follow.

What are good hashtags to use for Physician Assistants?

  • #consortiumPA – PA Consortium Education Program
  • #PhysicianAssistants – For all PA related conversations
  • #PAStudents or #PhysicianAssistantStudents – For PA Students
  • #IPE – Interprofessional Education
  • #IPP – Interprofesional Practice
  • #paquestion – Hashtag by @CanadianPA for their weekly questions.

What are good hashtags to use for Canadian Health Care?

  • #hcsm – Health Care and Social Media
  • #hcsma – Health Care and Social Media Canada.
  • #cdnhealth – Canadian Health Care
  • #abhealth – Alberta Health
  • #onpoli – Ontario Politics
  • #cdnpoli – Canadian Politics
  • #mededuca – Medical Education in Canada
  • #hcbc – Health Care British Columbia
  • #mhsm – Mental Health Social Media
  • #CHCchat – Community Health Centres Chat
  • #CHC or #CHCs – Community Health Centres
  • #pcc – patient centered care

What are patient related hashtags?

  • #ptsafety Patient Safety
  • #hcdm – Health Care Decision Making
  • #patienteducation or #patientedu – Patient Education


If health care professionals, especially the Physician Assistant Community starts tweeting with using hashtags, we can start increasing our reach and presence in social media with other health care stakeholders who are also using twitter as a platform.