Deciding who to follow is one of the holiest decisions one can make on Twitter. After all, it is literally choosing whose ideas you wish to let into your mind. For this reason, many Twitter users, especially new ones, limit the number of accounts they follow to a select few. The question is, what types of Twitter accounts are you interested in? When newbies ask EM Twitter “experts” who to follow, a typical list of well-known names frequently comes up. These lists tend to feature Free Open Access Medical Education (#FOAMed) all-stars. These are usually respected EM providers with a track record of high-quality content both on Twitter and online in general via podcasts or blogs. There’s even an account called @FOAMstarter that follows 31 well-known EM Twitter users. New users can simply follow these 31 accounts and be certain that the information appearing in their feeds will be high-quality and high-yield.
However, one area that does not receive as much attention is that Twitter is a stellar resource for keeping up with general medical news from the nation’s and world’s leading health care organizations. The trick is finding accounts that don’t merely tweet out banal junk. Personally, I don’t need a reminder that it is Arbor Day and that I should plant a tree. That was an actual tweet from the American Heart Association (AHA) account, @American_Heart. The AHA account is basically a digital public relations flack for their various initiatives, which apparently include planting trees on Arbor Day. I’m sure that’s very important, but I don’t need it in my Twitter feed. Don’t believe me? Here’s one more “high-yield” doozy from that account: “It’s never too late to start eating healthier!” Fortunately, we are not reprinting the JPEG image that accompanied this tweet, which featured a beet with the caption, “Hey girl, my heart beets for you.” Now you are free to never follow that account (unless you happen to really like it). You’re welcome.
The question is, which large reputable organizations are useful? Here are a few recommendations.
1 The World Health Organization (@WHO). WHO tweeted out a link to a joint statement by WHO and @UNICEF regarding attacks on medical facilities and personnel in Syria. Earlier in the day, the account tweeted out some important statistics: “#Measles deaths worldwide: 1980: 2,600,000. 2000: 546,800. 2014: 114,900 #VaccinesWork” and a link to the WHO fact sheet on measles.