Friday, July 8, 2016

Building Online Community in Hospice and Palliative Care

by Christian T Sinclair

In this digital age, it is common to hear how devices isolate us from real authentic relationships. There are books written about how no one gets together once a week at the bowling alley or the coffee house, to just talk with friends and build that valuable relationship glue. I chuckle when I hear these concerns, because what I have experienced has been quite the opposite with the weekly #hpm chat on Twitter.*

(If you just saw the hashtag or the word Twitter and you immediately thought “I don’t do Twitter,” stick with me until the end!)

Next Thursday marks the 6th anniversary of #hpm chat, our weekly online chat dedicated to hospice and palliative medicine/care. In these six years, multiple friendships and connections have been made because of #hpm chat. Through these weekly conversations, I know social workers, physicians, pharmacists, chaplains, advocates and physicians I would never have likely met otherwise. They help inform my worldview of the field through sharing their experiences. One chatter recently mentioned that #hpm chat was like her interdisciplinary self-care. I must agree,. Each time I feel a little drained by work and think about skipping out on the Wednesday night chat, I sign on and find that I am re-energized by the end of the hour.

So I would like to invite you to come celebrate with us on our 6th anniversary.

For those of you who have never participated, if you have a Twitter account, please come join us. Just once and you will find a welcoming community that you’ll want to come back to. If you do not have a Twitter account, you can always follow as a voyeur by following the #hpm hashtag before you decide to get a Twitter account (I realize it is not for everyone!)

If you only have used Twitter to follow the The Hospice and Palliative Care Annual Assembly, you will find the same energy and great info all year long each Wednesday night. If it invades family time, I get that, but think of it like going out after work with colleagues. You are entitled to do that a few times a year! It’s good for your professional networking!

And if you are one of the thousands who have participated over the past six years, thank you so much for being part of a unique endeavor. Collectively we have made a tent pole for hospice and palliative care advocates to gather and support each other, all while being open to the public for education and feedback.

Since 2010 we have held 297 chats covering lots of topics, with a few repeats in there because the audience is always changing and people have new things to bring to the table. Since 2014 we have had 124 chats with nearly 88 million potential impressions from nearly 40,000 tweets from over 4,000 (non-unique) participants. We are excited to see what the future brings.

A big shout-out to the #hpm chat co-moderators: Meredith MacMartin (@GraniteDoc), Niamh van Meines (@EOLNavigator) and Ashley Deringer (@acderinger). They have done a great job making sure this chat functions week in and week out. If you are interested in helping with #hpm chat we have some projects we would like to do but need more volunteer hands on deck. Just contact any of us on Twitter or @hpmchat.

Christian T Sinclair, MD, FAAHPM is the co-founder and lead moderator of #hpm chat, editor of Pallimed, president of the AAHPM, and a palliative care doctor at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

What: #hpm (hospice and palliative med/care) chat on Twitter
When: Wed 07/13/2016 - 9p ET/ 6p PT
Host: Dr. Christian Sinclair, and Dr. Meredith MacMartin

 and go to for up to date info.

If you are new to Tweetchats, you do not need a Twitter account to follow along. Try using the search function on Twitter. If you do have a Twitter account, we recommend using for ease of following. You can also check out the new site dedicated to #hpm chat -

If you seem to always forget about the chat until it is over, you can always set a calendar reminder!

For more on past tweetchats, see our archive here.

*Occasionally people ask why #hpm and not #hpmc? #hpm was not a widely used hashtag, but #hpc was already getting lots of traffic for people to talk about Hewlett-Packard Computers (which has now morphed to High-Powered Computers). The first organizing hashtag for our field was #AAHPM for the 2009 Annual Assembly. As the Twitter tribe for our field was small back then, the decision was made by me to stick with #hpm since it was close to #AAHPM, and not staked out by any other group. We now recognize it as hospice and palliative medicine/care and have all professions well-represented at our chats.

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