To blog or not to blog, that is the question. Increasingly, the answer is a resounding yes–especially when it comes to physicians.
Yes, nearly a quarter century since the first blog was created by a student at Swarthmore College, the social media platform still matters. Even in a world where hundreds of millions of people follow emerging trends 140 characters at a time, Sally Smith from down the street is considered a reliable source of news and the average attention span of a human is shorter than that of a gold fish.
Blogs matter to physicians because people are reading them. One main reason these people are reading them is to gather information about the their health and the health of their family members. They are also reading them to self-diagnose and they even decide which doctors to see based on certain blog articles.
So, yes, blogs still matter.
But before you rush out and create a WordPress blog for yourself, consider the following five things you need to know about physician blogs:
Know your audience. It’s the first rule of writing and it applies equally to prescriptions, books and, yes, blogs.
Many of the physician blogs are written for current and prospective patients. These blogs are clearly designed to serve a marketing purpose.
But, there are also many physician blogs targeted to fellow physicians. These blogs could also serve a marketing purpose–especially if their authors are implementing a professional referral strategy. However, it’s more likely that they are designed to raise the author’s professional profile, serve the public good or allow the physician blogger to express themselves.
When it comes to topics, physician bloggers write about everything from innovations in health care and changes in health reform to music and what they did with their kids during their last family vacation.
Yes, everything is seems to be fair game.
However, the best-read physician blogs seem to focus on three key areas: policy, research and humor.
Regardless of whether the physician blogs focus on the changing face of the industry, emerging technologies or funny stories from the emergency department, they all share one attribute that keeps readers coming back for more: personal stories.
If you take a look at the most popular physician blogs, you will quickly realize that they all keep it real.
The authors aren’t trying to sell something–at least not overtly. Instead, they tell stories that are interesting, personal and focused on solving some sort of problem. They educate, inform, entertain and engage.
What they don’t do is try to sell. Selling is a surefire way to suck the life out of your blog as well as your readers.
Blogs have created a brave new world for physicians, who now have the ability to make their voices heard in outlets other than medical journals and the mainstream media.
They can share ideas, experiences and advice. They can market, make new professional connections and commiserate.
What they can’t do is compromise their patients’ privacy.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) still applies to information you share on social media.
Whether you want to write to market your practice, raise your profile or vent your frustrations, there is one fact that can’t be denied: physician blogs work.
Just make sure you’re honest, interesting and always protecting your patients’ privacy.
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