In the midst of this week’s HIMSS conference in NOLA, my WCG colleagues and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Twitter and the social habits among hospital CIOs. After all, hospital and health system CIOs are, in many respects, the architects and engineers of the nation’s healthcare transformation in progress. They are the most sought after audience at HIMSS…the reason the conference exists. But all of this richly deserved attention begs an obvious question: “What exactly are they thinking about and talking about these days?” As with most questions in life, Twitter provides a glimpse into the answer. So we put our heads together with our social analytics colleagues to crunch some big data; 13,000 Tweets and 8,000 bitly links later, we have some interesting answers.

There were many insights from the analytics we ran, but I will use this blog to call out three:

First, while more than 800 hospitals in the U.S. have Twitter handles, there are relatively few CIOs with individual handles (we counted 27 actively used handles among hospital CIOs and CMIOs – if we missed you, please do let us know). Texas and Massachusetts lead the pack with five Tweeting CIOs each, driven by a confluence of socially active CIOs at leading health systems in Boston and Dallas Forth Worth. Dr. Dirk Stanley (a CMIO with Cooley Dickinson Hospital) and Ed Marx (with Texas Health Resources) are the most active users of Twitter among their peers.

Next, it appears that hospital CIOs are avid readers of a number of leading news sites and healthcare blogs. Some of the most frequently linked to news sites are, (Scott Hensley), (Tim/Inga – take a bow), (Bernie Monegain – you too!) and (Lauran & team – well done!). Top blogs include BIDMC CIO Dr. John Halamka’s blog, Tara Parker Pope’s Well Blog for The New York Times, and the Harvard Business Review blog. It is worth noting that the Advisory Board’s content seems to be attracting an audience via – and that WCG client Texas Health Resources is well-represented based on the activity of CIO Ed Marx and CMIO Ferdinand Velasco – in addition to Marx’ regular contributions to the aforementioned HISTalk2 blog.

And finally, we were curious to see what CIOs were tweeting about in comparison to the larger conversation taking place in digital health, to determine what topics are most resonating with them. Specifically, we compared the topics most oft-tweeted by hospital CIOs over the past year with how topics trended across all online news and tweets. Three things jumped out at us.

  • First, while mobile health is clearly on CIOs’ radars (the 7th most tweeted topic), it has been dominating the conversation in healthcare overall.
  • Though accountable care has been a big topic among Tweeting CIOs (#2 overall), ACOs have only recently become a similarly hot topic with all audiences (perhaps an example of where the rest of the industry is catching up?).
  • Last, we found that good, bad or indifferent, CIOs’ tweets reference the topic of electronic health records the most – by far (in future analyses, perhaps we will take a closer look at how much good/bad/indifferent and what is driving each). Lest EHR vendors take too much comfort from this data, meaningful use and health information exchange were topics not far behind at #5 and #9 respectively.

That’s what we found interesting, but what’s more interesting is hearing what caught your eye. Please check out the links to the analysis and data and share your comments and questions below. For more discussion about trends in digital health, please look us up at South by Southwest (SxSW) later this week as you leave the gumbo behind and continue the chat over some bbq (in the spirit of keeping this post healthful…extra lean bbq and hold the cornbread please!).