How many times have you heard from a patient about medical information they read online or saw on tv that wasn’t really accurate? How often have you spent precious minutes of your time with them explaining why the article or news clip doesn’t really represent reality? Don’t you wish you could use that time for a different purpose during their appointment?
This is one of the scenarios that makes blogging for your medical practice so powerful. If there is a news story that is making the rounds and you know you are going to be asked about it repeatedly, you can preemptively address those questions in a blog post. For example, if you are a pediatrician, you can evaluate the health news and write a blog post on the safety concerns of the measles vaccine. This single article could save you several minutes multiple time per day. That makes writing that blog post time well spent.
Did you know there is a website that already evaluates the health claims in the news? Health News Reviews: Your Health News Watchdog “evaluates health care journalism, advertising, marketing, public relations and other messages that may influence consumers and provides criteria that consumers can use to evaluate these messages themselves.” Reviews are conducted by medical professionals and seasoned healthcare journalists, all who have a passion for seeing that health messages in journalism are as accurate and transparent as possible.
Health News Reviews offers several benefits for you as you blog for your patients. First, it’s a great resource to turn to first when you want to evaluate a news source. Someone else may have already done the heavy lifting, and you can use their analysis of the story as you pen an article for your patients. I’m not advocating plagiarism at all, but a quick look at the analysis can help crystallize the points you want to be sure to make for your patients. You may even decide to link to the article on the Health News Reviews website “for further reading.”
Second, if they haven’t reviewed a news item that you would like to address, they offer a fantastic list of criteria to help you evaluate the item yourself. My partner Bliss is a nut for checklists, and I think the checklist provided by Health News Reviews is about as good as they come. It’s a tool that helps you become the health news watchdog for your own patients.
Of course, a piece of journalism about a health news story may be poorly done, but that doesn’t make the assertion false. This is why you have the medical degree. Your patient relies on you to take the news items, their analyses, and your own evaluation of the literature and put them in context based on that patient’s own health concerns.
So Health News Reviews and their list of criteria are, in the end, not that different from your stethescope. They are simply tools in your doctor bag to help you provide the best care for your patients based on your medical knowledge and judgment. They don’t make you a great doctor, but they make it easier to be one. Armed with such tools you can provide valuable health information to your patients both in the exam room and on your website.
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Photo Credit: © Vito Fusco/ Dollar Photo Club