Disease Specific Hashtags: #ASCO15

May 31, 2015.

Twitter, Facebook and other social media venues can serve as a treasure of valuable information or a heap of misinformation. With so many sub classifications for the multitude of different diseases, discussion among experts and laypeople alike can get very complicated, and going online for information can be daunting.

An abstract coming out of the premier cancer conference, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), aims at further enabling information flow for various stakeholders. The report looks retrospectively at Twitter use of 25 hashtags used from April 2011 – September 2014.

An organized system of hashtags using the cancer tag ontology (CTO) was designed in July 2013. The abstract compared to time periods noting increased activity from with 13,778 tweets in the Q3 2011 bumping up to 75,960 tweets in Q3 2014. Twitter as a medium has certainly seen explosive growth over this time period, so it’s unclear how much the increased activity was due to better hashtag organization, or simply more social media users getting into the mix.

Additionally, tweet counts, not to mention retweets, clicks and impressions are important metrics. But deeper analysis of education, interaction and general impact are tough to come by when analyzing Twitter. The group concludes the study exhibited feasibility and growth of CTOs while further study looking at access, outcomes or as a model for other areas of medicine will be needed. Lead author Matthew Katz did produce this rather viral tweet:

Disease-specific hashtags for online communication about cancer care. Coming Monday at #ASCO15http://t.co/lsST60DJgQ#hcldr#hcsm

- Matthew Katz (@subatomicdoc) May 27, 2015