Still not all a-Twitter


As pretty much anyone with a pulse these days knows, the Internet and the mainstream media are all, ahem, a-twitter about Twitter, the immensely popular micro-blogging site. For one thing, it's been a tremendously useful tool in disseminating information from Iran in public defiance of a government crackdown on media coverage of that country's disputed election. You don't have to ask this journalist about the importance of a free press in any society.

Yesterday in FierceHealthIT, my colleague Anne Zieger wrote about Twitter as a tool for market research that securities traders--but not healthcare organizations--are taking advantage of. I certainly can picture a hospital system, insurance company or technology vendor monitoring tweets to see what others think of their operations. As Anne suggested, I also can picture the same types of entities finding ways to aggregate tweets into customer-satisfaction reports.

Today, the Software Advice blog discussed Twitter as a tool for monitoring and containing disease outbreaks.

Somehow, though, I remain skeptical that Twitter is the "unstoppable force" that Anne describes it as. I tend to view Twitter as a way for people to tell you every last detail of their mundane lives when they have a free moment to send a text message, not something that could serve a useful business or public health purpose.

I can't seem to accept the idea that it's more than a passing fancy that eventually will fizzle or be supplanted by some other flavor of the month. Remember when MySpace was the place to be online, just a couple of years ago? Well, Facebook now has at least twice as many users worldwide, and MySpace is fast losing its grip on the U.S. market, according to the TechCrunch blog.

Am I wrong to doubt Twitter in healthcare? - Neil

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