In the mire of bad medical information out there on the web, a medical blog can be a beacon of integrity–a shining antidote.
Blogs are accessible to people; they use everyday language in a casual style. A blog is a great place to provide useful evidence-based medical information that people will understand.
A medical blog is also where you can show people who you are. That you are one of the good ones: a practitioner who knows their stuff and puts patient health and wellbeing above all else. And doing that will naturally attract patients–who doesn’t want that?
We are passionate about medical blogging, so we give lots of advice on the subject:
But, I think we’ve been getting ahead of ourselves. So, in this post, I am going to back up and explain exactly what a “medical blog” is.
I mean, understanding that really is Step One to making it happen.
What is a Medical Blog?
A blog at its most fundamental level is simply a ‘web log.’ That is, a regularly updated account of events or ideas posted on the web. The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging (a terrific resource if you are just starting out)
A blog becomes a medical blog when it is used to convey medical information or is associated with a medical practice.
Blogs are public and unregulated. Anyone (including you) with a website can publish a blog. That means that blogs vary a LOT in style, tone, and quality on all subjects.
For every New York Times Well Blog, there are twenty more written by poorly educated, antisocial, mentally unstable hate-mongers. This is where the mire of bad medical information, that I mentioned above, often comes from.
What blogs generally have in common, though, is a certain level of humanity. They feel like a person wrote them, with plenty of pronouns like You, We, and I.
This familiarity and casualness of style lends itself beautifully to the delivery of medical info. Complex, often scary, science can be presented in a way that is clear and even fun to read. A blog is a place to bring high science to lay people.
Blogging is a great fit for clinicians since they do that very thing all day long at the bedside.
Word of caution: unlike the bedside, a blog is not the place to actually give medical advice. You might even want to make that clear by using a disclaimer.
Blogs are also meant to be interactive. People can comment and the author of the blog can respond–discussions can be enlightening and debates can be raucous. Sometimes the comments section is miles longer than the original blog.
For medical bloggers, it is a good idea to be cautious here.
While the internet in general, and blogs in particular, are not regulated, the dissemination of medical information by medical practitioners is VERY MUCH regulated.
If you are a licensed medical professional or blogging on behalf of one, the comments section can get you in trouble. You don’t want someone disseminating bad information or bad will via your blog comments. You also need to make sure someone’s comment doesn’t, by proxy, leave you violating any HIPAA laws.
The good news is that most websites let you pre-approve (or completely turn off) comments.
What Do I Blog About?
So, now that you know what a blog is, you might be wondering what to blog about.
The entries that you make into your blog are called blog posts. Posts can be short or long, with images (recommended) or without. They can be your idle musings on a subject or they can be formal articles.
I recommend that medical practices blog about things that will be useful to their patients. When deciding on a topic, think “Will my patients want to read this?” or “Is this something my patients should know?”
Here is a blog I wrote, The Seven Best Blog Topics for Your Medical Practice, that will help you with more ideas.
Start a blog!
I realize this is not a terribly small task and you probably can’t do the whole thing during your coffee break. But, you can get the ball rolling.
Here are some first steps to take:
1. Find out if your website has blogging capabilities.
2. Start a list of topics to blog about.
3. If you are not a writer, find out if anyone in your office would be interested in taking on the job.
4. Sign up to get our five free medical blog recipes. We want you to start blogging and to help get you started, we’ve come up with five free topics for you. We give you the topics, the angle to take, some suggested images, and links to resources. Start with these and you’ll be well on your way.
Photo Credit: © [Elenarts] / Dollar Photo Club