Today I (as @drmattmurray) and @TexMed moderated our first Twitter Chat that focused on the topic of e-prescribing. To participate in a Twitter Chat a physician must have a Twitter account and must know the date, time and Twitter hashtag for the Twitter Chat. In our case the hashtag-- #eRx630--refers to e-prescribing and the date, June 30th, by which time physicians must meet the CMS requirements regarding the use e-prescribing. Physicians who fail to use a qualified e-prescribing system or certified EHR to enter at least 10 e-prescriptions during eligible Medicare encounters will incur a 1% penalty on 2012 Medicare claims. On the other hand, those who meet this requirement are eligible for a 1% bonus.
Despite the high importance of this subject matter, there were not any other physicians participating on this particular Twitter Chat. At least none that we heard from. It was lonely.
However, we considered this to be an experiment and a chance to experience what it is like to actually moderate a Twitter Chat. Without a lot of participating "chit-chat", it was difficult to coordinate questions and answers with my friends @TexMed and @TexMedHIT. We basically asked each other questions or even asked ourselves for our own answers. I think we did get out some excellent information, but this would have been more valuable with some active back-and-forth dialogue. Again, though, the purpose of this venture was to dip our toes in the water to see how this type of format could be used in the future.
Twitter Chat among physicians will certainly have challenges, but I think it will find it's place as a useful mode of communication for specific purposes and in certain situations. The format will need to be refined, and this means we will have to try it (like today!), experiment with it, refine it and keep doing that PDSA thing to it (Plan-Do-Study-Act). Eventually it will find a place where it serves as an effective way to communicate some things. I already have found Twitter useful at large medical conferences that use a hashtag to communicate real-time information. It is a matter of finding the right niches.
One of the useful aspects of a Twitter Chat is that a transcript can be created of the entire conversation. This means that you don't have to be "online" and engaged in the Twitter stream for the entire duration of the chat. Since most physicians are hard pressed to find an un-interrupted hour, they would find it very helpful to be able to access and peruse the transcript at their leisure.
Here is a transcript of today's Twitter Chat #eRx630: