The internet and social media have brought another dimension to medicine that has been under-utilized for various reasons. Blogging, also known as a “web-log”, it is similar to an online journal entry on a specific topic. The fact is, 81% of Americans trust bloggers (1). As medical professionals, we all have unique experiences and outlooks on medicine. These multiple vantage points vary for non-medical communities to utilize. That, coupled with the vast cultural, socio-economic and regional variances of each patient, lends to harnessing an additional level of blog worthy information available for the entire world to read.
So why don’t we do it? Blog, that is? One reason, is the lack of understanding of the effectiveness of a blog. Secondly, time is an issue. Most medical professionals are crazy busy. Because of the level of physical, mental and emotional intensity, the urgency to disconnect once we leave the workplace means the last thing we want to do is reading, writing or discussing medicine. And lastly, the “what’s in it for me” resonates loudly. Although there are some perks and financial gains, if you are consistent and persistent, most doctors, nurses and other medical professionals do not see the long-term value. Asking for a good reason to invest even more personal time into medical practice is an entirely legitimate question, and before the idea gets rejected as unacceptable, read on and contemplate how a medical blog can save you a lot of time, improve your medical business as well as be a public health service to the world.
1. Same ole, Same ole
No matter the area of expertise, more than 90% of the patients doctors see in their offices every day suffers from a condition or diagnosis that is just a mundane routine medical problem. Most of these medical issues are easily treatable problem that almost always needs twice as much time to explain than to treat. For the illustration, let’s take the flu as an example. How long does it take to explain to a patient the timeline of flu infection and answer all his or her questions? Five-ten minutes? During the flu season, there are at least ten flu patients a day that need the same explanation, and that will ask pretty much the same questions. To surpass this, you could easily write a short blog or even more popular a thirty-second video blog. Your blog could be something like “Do’s and Don’ts for flu season,” publish it on your blog, social medial, professional webpage and hand the card with a blog link to your patients.
2. e-Medicine is en vogue
If you haven’t noticed e-Medicine is taking over! Even large insurance companies recognize telemedicine services and advocate their usage to their plan holders. Telehealth is a valid way to provide healthcare and pay for such services at a fraction of the cost. In the next decade, the revolution of technology and healthcare will change drastically. In the field of medical services the concept of doctor appointments will become a matter of the past. Instead, at least 50% of the patients will be treated with the use of smart devices and online guidance by their doctors.
For now, the blog is a great way to reach out to your patients and introduce them to the concept of e-Health. Instead of monthly visits, they can update their online blood pressure or blood sugar diary on daily bases. You can check their readings and notes at a designated time and advise them by HIPPA compliant software (an app) of what should be done next.
3. Branding YOU
In the past, marketing and medicine did not go hand and hand, some thought it to be unethical. But in 1982, the United States Supreme Court affirmed a ruling in favor of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that determined the prohibition on advertising contained in the American Medical Association’s code of ethics was an unlawful restraint of competition (2). What does that mean? You as a medical professional can ethically market and brand yourself and provide medical services and information to the public (3). What a better way to do that than with a blog.
You can teach your audience how to take care of their health, how to improve it, interact with them through the comment section and before you know it, they will let you take care of the most valuable thing they have…their health.
So for the astute medical professional and most doctors, I encourage you to blog! These factors highlight an active medical phenomenon that most can not afford to miss the moment. We as doctors, need the advantage of being a contributor to the growing on-line information of medical perspectives. Your medical journey will give a valid analysis and unique insight to those who are looking for more information and a reliable voice.
2 American Medical Assoc v FTC, 455 US 676 (1982)