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Knowledge & Passion vs. Experience & Expertise in MedBlogging


The most common advice handed out when it comes to blogging is, “Blog about something you know and are passionate about.”  That’s great advice, as your passion will continue to provide you with a wide range of topics to write about, while your knowledge in the field will give your posts the authority that readers expect, and that combination will result in attracting a steady stream of new readers.

But no matter how smart you are, how much you know, or how much time you spend researching, there are times when you want to write about a subject that is unfamiliar to you, or involves remote locations that you can’t visit in order to gain firsthand experience.

When I started the Global Patriot blog I knew this would be the case more often than not, as the topics which interested me covered everything from human rights, hunger, poverty and violence, to helping the environment and health care.  I knew a fair amount about each of these topics from news reports and documentaries, and there’s a wealth of information online, but in some cases that wasn’t enough.

While many medical disciplines reside in the laboratory, the true end goal is about treating people, and this is never more true than when medical teams are called upon to save lives inside conflict zones.  In these situations, nothing can substitute for the experience of someone who was actually there.

Such was the case when I decided to write a series of blog posts about Doctors Without Borders (DWB) the second of which highlighted their ongoing mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Part One – Humanitarian Efforts
Part Two – Democratic Republic of Congo
Part Three – Refugee Camps

I didn’t work for Doctors Without Borders, wasn’t a trained doctor or nurse, and had never visited DRC.  What I did have, however, was a passion to write about the topic, and a reputation at Global Patriot for blogging about issues affecting people around the world who were in need of medical aid.  So when I reached out to the Director of Communications at DWB, he was very supportive of this project and opened doors to internal resources who could provide me with the human experience I was looking for.

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Medblogging For The Busy Professional: How, Why?


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
Twitter: @Matrixband

Medblogging and Patient Privacy


628bd932-5e0c-4001-ab47-3091dd2578a6drcase300-real (Mike Sevilla, M.D. is a board certified family physician in Northeastern Ohio. We know him as medblogger and Blog Talk Radio star Doctor Anonymous.

Mike is moderating the Medblogger track session “Staying on the Good Side of HIPAA: Safe and Ethical Blogging Practices”.

Here is his take on the session and the panelists. Take it away, Mike!)


When I first considered authoring my own medical blog, I was very concerned about the issue of privacy. And, many people have told me that this is the number one concern that they have when considering entering the social media sphere – whether it be blogging, podcasting, or using sites like twitter and facebook.

“Staying On The Good Side of HIPPA: Safe and Ethical Blogging Practices” is the second of four sessions comprising the first Medblogger Track at BlogWorld/New Media Expo 2009. We’ll be discussing, arguably, one of the most difficult challenges medbloggers have to face – namely – Where is the line between safe & ethical blogging and patient privacy?

As my social networking/blogger identity suggests (Doctor Anonymous), I definitely have some thoughts on this subject and I will be moderating this panel of experts who will give excellent perspective on this complicated subject.

Rob Lamberts is author of the blog Musings of a Distractible Mind. Dr. Rob is a primary care physician who is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. Recently, he has entered the realm of podcasting with his wildly popular House Call Doctor podcast. In 2007, Dr. Rob proposed a “Health Blogger Code of Ethics,” which is used as a standard in the medblogging community.

Bryan Vartabedian is the author of the Parenting Solved blog. He is a pediatric gastroenterologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX. He is the author of Colic Solved, the definitive book on screaming, miserable babies published by Ballantine/Random House in 2007. Dr. Vartabedian has written for American Baby, Parenting, Disney’s Wondertime and is frequently quoted in the national media on issues related to children’s health.

Bob Coffield is the author of the Health Care Law Blog. According to his bio, Bob is a health care attorney practicing at Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso, PLLC and blogging from Charleston, West Virginia. He is focused on helping businesses and health care providers weave through a variety of state and federal health care regulations and assisting them in business transactions. For a good introduction to this panel subject, I encourage you to read his post entitled Healthcare Blogging and Web 2.0.

I invite you to come and check out the first ever MedBlogger Programming Track at BlogWorld and New Media Expo 09. In addition to this topic, there will also be panel discussions on the State of the Medical Blogosphere, How To Influence Healthcare Through Blogging, and The Value of Blogs to Hospitals and other entities.

This will be an undoubtedly be a historic and fun meeting. Hope to see you there!

Meblogger Track: The State of the Medical Blogosphere


The State of the  Medical Blogosphere The medical blogosphere is actually a composite, made up of patients, doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, medical companies…you get the picture.

If you are blogging about a health care topic, you fall under the medblogger rubric.

“The State of the Medical Blogosphere: We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby” is one of four sessions comprising the first Medblogger Track at BlogWorld/New Media Expo 09. We’ll be looking at the history of the genre, what we have learned along the way and where we are headed.

Some of the anticipated topics for this session (and yes, I am listening to the Beatles right now, why do you ask?)

  • Come Together: the early bloggers and the formation of Grand Rounds
  • Paperback Writers – bloggers in print
  • I Should Have Known Better – when blogging and work collide; how much is too much?
  • Help! – patient bloggers share experiences and emotions
  • Revolution – mainstream media starts blogging; bloggers make made the jump to mainstream media
  • All Together Now – medical institutions embrace the blogosphere

I have the honor of moderating this panel, so let me introduce you to the panelists:

  • Kerri Morrone Sparling – Kerri is the author of Six Until Me, where she chronicles the experience of living with diabetes. Her blog has been spotlighted on WebMD, The Lancet, US World News and World Report, CNBC and AOL. She is an Editor and Community Leader for dLife, a diabetes-media company. She’s smart; she’s eloquent – she knows her stuff. (No jealously here. Nope. Not a bit….).
  • Nick Genes, M.D., Ph.D – Nick is a resident in Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. He writes his own blog (Blogborygmi), is a partner at Medgaget.com and is most famously known as “The Father of Grand Rounds”, having started the venerable blog carnival in 2004. And just for the record, he studied chondrocyte mechanotransduction while getting his MD. I can’t even pronounce it. ‘Nuff said.
  • Kevin Pho, M.D. – Kevin is a board-certified internal medicine physician from Nashua, NH. He blogs on current medical issues at Kevin, MD. He’s been mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, British Medical Journal, The Detroit Free Press and American Medical News. You may have caught his interview with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News. I make sure to catch his blog by having it come directly to me by email. It’s that good.

Come join us as we explore the state of the medical blogosphere and meet our blogging colleagues at BWE.

The state of the medical blogosphere?

It’s fantastic!

Medical Bloggers at Blog World Expo 2009


Medical bloggers at Blog World Expo, October 15th, 2009

September 7, 2009

(The following post has been written by Kevin Pho, MD, blogger and medblogger track panelist. The original post can be found here, at Kevin, MD)


I have been graciously invited to participate on a panel in the medical blogger track at Blog World Expo 2009, held in Las Vegas on Thursday, October 15th.

Medical bloggers at Blog World Expo, October 15th, 2009 My panel, entitled, The State of the Health Blogosphere: We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby, will be moderated by Emergiblog’s Kim McAllister. I am honored to be joined by Nick Genes of Blogborygmi, and founder of Grand Rounds, as well as Kerri Sparling, a leading diabetes patient advocate who blogs at SixUntilMe.

I started blogging in May of 2004, and yes, medical blogs have come a long way. Just the fact we now have a dedicated track at the premier new media expo is a testament to that.

When I started, blogging was on the media fringe. The medical profession didn’t know quite what to make of it, and was hesitant to embrace the medium. Fast forward to today, and it is now standard that medical institutions be engaged with social media, whether it be blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

Personally, KevinMD.com has opened many doors for me, including the opportunity to write for, and be interviewed by, mainstream media organizations. And with health reform dominating the conversation, it’s gratifying to know that I’m doing a small part to make my voice heard.

Thanks to the tireless work of Kim and Val Jones of Better Health, for realizing the vision of a prominent platform at a premier media event.

Thanks also goes out to sponsors Johnson & Johnson and MedPage Today for their essential contributions.

I will be joined by the who’s who of the medical blogging world, with three other panels planned:

i) Staying On The Good Side of HIPAA: Safe and Ethical Blogging Practices
ii) Blogging For Change: How To Influence Healthcare Through Blogging
iii) The Value of Blogs To Hospitals, Industry, and News Organizations

Here are further details on the medblogger track, including information on registration and hotel discounts for other medical bloggers.

I hope to see you all there.

Medblogging Meets BlogWorld/New Media Expo


funny pictures Never underestimate the power of a rant!

This year will mark the first ever Medblogger track at BlogWorld/New Media Expo.

And it all started because of a rather indignant blogger.

That would be me.


An introduction may be in order.  I’m Kim, a registered nurse who has been blogging about my life and times as an ER nurse over at Emergiblog.

It was 2008 and I had just come home from attending BlogHer. So many bloggers! So much energy! So much inspiration!

And not a single session or special interest group for medbloggers.

I looked at other conferences.  Even those related to health 2.0 had nothing for those of us in the trenches, the day-to-day regular medbloggers. I looked at BlogWorld Expo. Milbloggers, sports bloggers, political bloggers, real estate bloggers…but nothing for medbloggers.

Humph! That just would not do! So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do.

I ranted.

Rick Calvert saw that rant, and left a comment.

“There is a place for you at BlogWorld.”



A small group of us made it to BlogWorldExpo 08, and to make it even better we came with a potential sponsor!

By the time we left, we had potential topics and speakers lined up for ’09.

Johnson & Johnson confirmed their sponsorship. Dr. Val at Better Health was instrumental in lining up our panels and confirming our speakers (aka, she did all the work!) and MedPage Today entered as a co-sponsor.

The die was cast; the game was afoot; we were ready to roll.

Here is the result, the Medblogger track line-up:

Panel #1 The State of the Health Blogosphere: We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

Moderator: Kim McAllister, Emergiblog
Panelist: Kevin Pho, Kevin MD
Panelist: Nick Genes, Blogborygmi
Panelist: Kerri Sparling, SixUntilMe

Panel #2 Staying On The Good Side of HIPAA: Safe and Ethical Blogging Practices

Moderator: Mike Sevilla, Doctor Anonymous
Panelist: Rob Lamberts, Musings of a Distractible Mind
Panelist: Bryan Vartabedian, Parenting Solved
Panelist: Bob Coffield, Health Care Law Blog

Panel #3 Blogging For Change: How To Influence Healthcare Through Blogging

Moderator: Val Jones, Better Health
Panelist: Neil Taverner, Other Things Amanzi
Panelist: Terri Polick, Nurse Ratched’s Place
Panelist: Gene Ostrovsky, Medgadget

Panel #4 The Value of Blogs To Hospitals, Industry, and News Organizations

Moderator: Gary Schwitzer, Health News Review
Panelist: Marc Monseau, Johnson & Johnson ‘s JNJBTW Blog
Panelist: Bob Stern, MedPage Today
Panelist: Paul Levy, Running A Hospital

From blog post to full track in less than a year.

Never underestimate the power of a rant!

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