Today I want to point out a great blog post by Howard J. Luks, MD, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports injuries. It’s clear from the content of his website that Dr. Luks is a zealot for involving his patients in their care.
The post I want to focus on today is titled Patients Need to Feel Comfortable Asking Questions – Your Input Matters. Let’s just break this post down.
First, Dr. Luks starts off with an anecdote of a patient who didn’t feel he could speak up to his doctor. Immediately we can all identify with the situation. We want to know what happened to poor Bill. We keep reading.
Then Dr. Luks demonstrates that he understands the concerns of his patients by listing, in bullet form, their common concerns. It’s already clear to me that, unlike Bill’s doctor, Dr. Luks listens to his patients. But he didn’t come out and tell me that – he demonstrated it by sharing this understanding. Very smart.
Finally, Dr. Luks goes on to give some specific actions that patients can take to get the most out of their doctor visits. By telling patients what information to provide and questions to ask, and giving them permission to wait to make a decision or even seek a second opinion, Dr. Luks is firmly positioned as patient advocate.
The result is an engaging article that ends with useful take away information for anyone who reads it – whether they are Dr. Luks patient or not. And if I’m shopping for an orthopedic surgeon, this article is definitely going to cause me to consider Dr. Luks.
From a writing perspective, the article is also well done. There are only two paragraphs with more than five lines – this makes for easy readability. No intimidating blocks of text here. Plentiful use of bullets makes the article easy to scan.
Furthermore, the text is written at a 7th grade reading level which is fantastic for a medical blog. This means that Dr. Luks has successfully taken medical concepts and communicated them without jargon. He’s written a piece that can be quickly scanned and digested by most hurried internet readers.
Finally, Dr. Luks’ tone is casual and accessible. I feel like he’s having a conversation with me, and he would probably be easy to talk to in person.
TO WORK ON
In the midst of this excellent blog, there are a few things Dr. Luks could do to improve it. First, an image would be valuable. A well-selected image engages readers before they get to the first word. I included one at the top of this post that would work well for Dr. Luks’ post. There are lots of resources to find cheap and free images on the internet.
Second, Dr. Luks could run the piece through a proofreader. Microsoft Word will catch most spelling or grammar errors for you. If you want to get really crazy, you can run it through the Hemingway App. It will find instances of the passive voice (9 in Dr. Luks’ article) or overly complicated sentences. The best proofreader I have found is simply reading the piece aloud. It’s crazy what will stand out to you when you hear your writing as opposed to just reading it silently.
Last, Dr. Luks has a ton of great content on his website. He is missing out on engaging his readers further by not linking from text in this article to posts he has previously written. Specifically, he’s written about rotator cuff tears and second opinions before. I would link to those if I were writing the blog post.
Overall, Dr. Luks offers us a great example of a useful blog for patients. Most medical practices would do well to take a page from his book.