Why would a busy doctor or other health care professional want to spend time on a blog? I mean, are we not busy enough with our “real” jobs?
In 2006, I started a blog about a rather specialized field of dentistry. Would anyone care to read what I had to say? Evidently yes. You would be surprised how many people are interested in seemingly mundane aspects of a specialized field. With minimal effort, medblogging can easily fit into your schedule and provide another platform for communication with your patients, fellow professionals and other interested people. After observing the world of blogging, I have a few tips for anyone contemplating medblogging about your medically related profession.
Make the quality of your content the focus.
Good blog posts provide a glimpse into your profession. Posts about diagnosis, procedures, or everyday practice will generate interest. There are as many types of blogs as there are specialties in medicine. Each person has a unique writing style or way of blogging. Don’t get bogged down in the platform or layout. Post as frequently as you can on subjects you find interesting or questions your patients have asked about in the office. Your interest and excitement in the subject will show through to your target audience.
Make sure to interact with your readers through the comment section. This is critically important to the success of any blog. I see so many “blogs” as an add-on to medical practice websites. They have few posts and no interaction with readers. That is not really a blog. It is just an extension of a rather uninteresting website.
Giving medical advice over the Internet is a tempting thing to do. Please be aware some people might be using you as their source for diagnosing their particular ailment. So, as you post and reply to comments, you might want to guide them to the appropriate place to get proper care rather than try and diagnose. You can write in general terms without giving specific advice.
Provide accurate, interesting content. If you are in the health field presenting information to the public, please be as accurate and ethical as you can. Facts or studies should have linked references if possible. Much of blogging is opinion, but as a health care provider, you know to be careful with what you say. Now, if you make a medblog post a thorough, referenced, footnoted discourse—no one will read it– boring. A blog is not the best place for that kind of detailed information; just link to other sources if you must. Be careful to follow proper HIPAA guidelines in presenting photos or case reports. Do not identify patients by name unless you have their written permission.
Expertise: Establish Yourself as the Authority
Why are you blogging? Sometimes it is just for fun. As you demonstrate your knowledge and competence, you will become known as an expert and authority in your field. Of course, you are an expert as the result of all those years of education, training and practice. So, share your experiences. A well-written vibrant blog can provide a platform for your practice and a partner to your main website. You become well known as you demonstrate your knowledge and share your passion. As you gain readers, you will likely become the “go-to” person for interviews in local or even national media. Book deals could follow if you are so inclined.
More importantly, your patients and potential patients get to know you. They see your love of your work. They see you care. You are now the local authority in your field. The blog also becomes another information source and a buffer against unfounded online review sites because people already know who you are and how you run your practice and relate to people.
Are you doing this to make money? Well, maybe, but be realistic about the siren call of blog “monetization”. Most of the time, ads will not make you much money unless you have a really large number of followers and are very clever at such things. You can have sponsors or ads if that’s what you want to do, but it is my observation that you will make more money doing what you do every day in the office. You will be better off if even one person decides to take advantage of your professional service after reading your blog than you will ever make with ads.
Most health care providers are hyper-local. Most of your business comes from patients in your own hometown. Unless you are in a specialized high dollar glamour specialty like plastic surgery, patients will not fly across the country just to see you-but, you’ll be surprised. I have had patients call me from Florida to California. Remember, you are now the authority, the expert. The Best.
You have devoted much of your life to your profession. Don’t be afraid to share your passion.
Dr. Dean Brandon has been a Pediatric Dentist for over 20 years with http://www.cyberdentist.com “APDA” and emperor of the blog “Pediatric Dentistry” since 2006.
Blog: “Pediatric Dentistry”