Winter 2014Social Media Corner

The #hashtag phenomenon: What are you waiting for? Join Now! 

by Nishant Jain, Co-Chair - HIMSS SoCal Marketing and Social Media

*This article conveys opinions of the author, and does not reflect perspectives of the HIMSS organization, the author’s employer or other affiliates.

At our Chapter’s CIO Forum in November, our Marketing and Communications Committee initiated the hashtag #CIOFORUM14 to post tweets through our Twitter channel. So, if some of you are wondering what hashtags are, and when and how to use them, this article is for you!

Origin of the hashtag 

On August 23rd, 2007, Chris Messina sent out a twitter message suggesting that the # sign be used to identify groups or messages on a specific topic. He was among the first 2000 original users of Twitter. Since then, it has become a phenomenon and it is a big part of today's social networking culture and used by all, young and old. Hashtags are showing up everywhere. The hashtag is one of those geeky ideas that broke through the internet world and has become part of our everyday world. You see hashtags on t-shirts, billboards, and even for advertising on the sides of buses. Everywhere!

What are hashtags?

Hashtags help to simplify Twitter and social media conversations and communications by creating a phrase or key words that are comprehensible to the participants of the conversation. Hashtags are created and managed by Twitter users themselves. While this all started with Twitter, hashtags are now used on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and all other social media.

How to use a hashtag

This is easy.  If you want to post a tweet using a hashtag, select a keyword and place the hashtag symbol(#) at the beginning of the selected word or phrase. Again, it is important to keep in mind that a hashtag is a single keyword or keyword phrase and is spelled out without spaces.

On the viewer side - If you see a hashtag, are you wondering what to do with it?

It is very easy to search on a subject or an area of interest by typing the hashtag in Twitter Search field.  Relevant conversations provide immediate insight into what people are currently talking about. You can filter further using an additional word qualifiers to see if someone that has used a particular hashtag has talked about the word or topic that you are interested in.


On the publishing side, some things to think about when coming up with a hashtag:

So, you decide you would like to join a conversation or you want to get a discussion going – how do you get started? First, you will want to tag something so that you can easily find it later.

Next, throw together a couple of words or combination of words that would be meaningful to you and your audience. Then, try to see if you can make it more unique. If you use something very common like #conference – you can be overwhelmed by all sorts of stuff. Whereas if you use #HITCON14 or #CIOForum14, you will be able to filter the posts and your responses and conversations will be more specific with more relevant content from that specific conference or source.

You can also use a combination of hashtags, with 2-5 most recommended. Most posts having 1-3 hashtags get the best traction. It’s not a good idea to use tons of hashtags to get attention as it can actually have the opposite impact and drown out your message. You will also want to be respectful of your audience and add value. It’s important to be mindful of who your readers are and what their needs are.

For example, if you search by using the hashtag #CIOFORUM14, you will be able to see all the interesting conversations posted during and following that event. We have included below some other interesting hashtags you may look to to use or search by related to healthcare:

#mhealth (mobile health) 
#emr (Electronic Medical Record)
#ehr (Electronic Health Record)
#HCIT (Healthcare IT)
#digitalhealth (Digital Health) 
#hcsm (healthcare social media)
#hcr (Healthcare Reform)
#ACO (Accountable Care Organization) 
#ICD10 (ICD-10)
#hcsmin (Healthcare Communications)
#ahima (American Health Information Management Association)
#HIMSS (Health Information & Management Systems Society)
#doctors20 (how doctors are using social media)
#MedEd - Doctors, physicians, medical education
#mdehr -Doctors and EHR

We invite you to join our community and follow us on @himsssocal - come and try it now!


  1. Laurie Paolone. The hashtag shows’ podcast
  2. Jonathan Govette. Top 30 Healthcare Twitter Hashtags to use while Tweeting.

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