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Making a hashtag of it in the physician world

As someone who has Googled "AMGA" in search of the American Medical Group Association only to find the American Meat Goat Association's website instead, I know that acronyms used in healthcare are not unique to the world of medicine."AMGA" also stands for the Alaska Machine Gun Association and the American Mountain Guides Association, but at least the American Medical Group Association owns amga.org.

According to legend, the American Marketing Association beat the American Medical Association to the punch for ama.org and so the nation's oldest and still largest physician group has to use the somewhat unwieldy ama-assn.org as its home address on the Web. But it could be worse, and it is—on Twitter.

Until a few months ago, I didn't know my @s from my hashtags, but I soon discovered how—by putting a # in front of name, subject or comedic cliche (#amIright?)—you can cut through the clutter and find out what people are saying about subjects that interest you. Usually.

Unfortunately, for the AMA—which has adopted the unwieldy tweeter handle of @AmerMedicalAssn—many others use #AMA to denote the American Music Awards, the American Motorcycle Association, and something in Spanish that I can't figure out. (Sorry AMA, I have enough trouble keeping these blog posts under 500 words; with Twitter's 140-character limit, you'll always be #AMA to me.)

The AMGA has something of the same problem as it seems there are more #AMGA tweets in Spanish than English, and—although I took cuatro anos de Espanol in high school, I have no idea what #AMGA stands for. (I apologize, dear readers, if I'm inadvertently cursing.)

While many tweets for continuing medical education topics use #CME, apparently it also stands for "Chicago Mercantile Exchange," "close my eyes,” "clean money everywhere," and other things I cannot comprehend (even after reading explanations at urbandictionary.com.

The American Medical Association's Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee serves as a payment advisory panel to the CMS and is better known by the acronym RUC. You can find a lot of discussion about it on Twitter by searching for #RUC. You can also find protests over plans to close Rutgers University's Camden campus.

Speaking of Medicare payment, the sustainable growth-rate formula used to calculate Medicare reimbursement for physician services is known as the SGR. Doing a Twitter search of #SGR will turn up plenty of tweets from doctors and medical societies urging congressional action on repealing the hated budgeting device, which calls for slashing physician pay by some 27% on March 1.

There also appears to be some other meaning for SGR in Spanish as well as some other language I'm not sure of (Dutch? German?). For most young English-speaking tweeters, however, #SGR appears to stand for (ahem) "S%*t Getting Real." Again, I am stumped on the exact meaning of this phrase, but—if Congress doesn't act on stopping the threatened physician pay cut—I have a feeling its meaning will become apparent on Feb. 29.

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.
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