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Nurses on Twitter, Twitter on Nurses

Why would a nurse want to use twitter?

First things first, what is twitter? Quite simply, it’s a microblogging tool. Think you have something witty/amusing/relevant to say and can get it in under 140 characters? Then twitter is for you. Want to connect with a community of people without having to write long, drawn out blog posts? I would suggest trying twitter. It’s like a slimmed down version of social networking. You write something, you read something. And you can have conversations with people. Short ones.

Along with twitter comes a great many sites that take twitter feeds and mash the data into something else entirely.

For example: Twittervision takes a map of the world and shows you real time tweets popping up on it. Twits Like Me can help you find friends on twitter. There’s also a very useful site called Summize, that you can use to track words as they occur on twitter. Here’s a very simple example of how I like to “play” with Summize:

This morning I got up at 5:45 AM, went to Summize and typed in “drinking”. Lots of tweets came back about drinking wine, getting drunk, etc. Then, an hour later I typed in “drinking” and got tweets about coffee and tea. It’s like watching the world go to bed and wake up at the same time. Try typing in “eating” somewhere around dinner time. You might just find yourself salivating.

And for a wonderfully compelling and beautiful site that uses data from Summize, I urge you to check out Twistori. But be forewarned. Your eyes might get stuck there for awhile.

Great. But I thought you were going to tell me why a nurse would want to use twitter?

For one, you can use Twitter to expand your online community. There are some tech savvy nurses out there using Twitter, and so why not try and connect with them? As you can see on Orientedx3, I am also using Twitter to get a glimpse of what people really think about nurses; the good, the bad, the fascinating, the irrelevant.

The thing that fascinates me the most about Twitter, and feed technology in general, is how it might be useful in medical situations.

Here’s a place where it could be used: Working in the recovery room, one of the problems I see for nurses is not getting enough background information on their patients. The patient reports that we receive are often short and without substance. Most of the time this suffices, but what happens when your patient takes a turn for the worst and you don’t have the right background information? You need to know the patient’s baseline and perhaps a little more about their history to take care of them.

Well, what if every patient had a feed that was connected to their EMR? It could basically serve as a mini-history of that patient’s hospitalization. It would include small blurbs of relevant info, like if the patients vital signs became abnormal, or if a one time dose of hydralazine had to be given, or if a patient required a blood transfusion. As a nurse, you could view this stream of feeds and get a much better picture of what the story is behind your patient. I could also imagine that the feed would be useful to physicians and pharmacists.

Anyhow, those are my Twitter thoughts for the day. Intrigued? Follow me!