Not Everyone Loves Blogs or A Doc In A Blog

03/13/2006

Doctors_bag A Blog Story -  On my way back from talking about blogs in Dallas last week, I sat next to a guy who asked if I was on my way to the ACC. Hmmm..thought I..ACC what could that one be? Active Communication Collaborators? Nope. Turns out my flight mate was a doc on his way to the American College of Cardiology Summit.

When he learned that I was doing work in the blog the space, his immediate reaction was to tell me blogs were a waste of time ... nothing more than a bunch of rant opinions and oh by the way, people are getting fired for blogging and colleges are now demanding that students hand over their blogs to them. And who has time to write those things anyway forget reading them. Much too busy.

Sidebar: Interesting article in USAToday about colleges that are expelling students for blog posts.

That might hold some truth, said I, but the applications for business blogging is quite exciting. So I proceeded to enlighten him about some of the cool happenings and the innovative people who are exploring blogs ... Kevin Pho, MD for example. Dr. Pho is a graduate from Boston University Medical School blogging at Kevin, MD Medical Weblog

Of course I mentioned the great work that Nick Jacobs, Winber Medical Center has been doing, as well as the March of Dimes and the ACS. Oh a hospital blogging? That's a business they can write about things that doctors just couldn't, the friendly, open-to-new ideas doc responded.
Sidebar: And your practice is what? Thought I. A free service open to all? Some how I didn't think so.

Said the doc, what would I write about? Why would I want to do that? All sorts of things, said I. Information about new happenings in the field, how to cope better, a little about you and your staff. And your patients can comment back to you. Since there are lots of docs and people have a choice who they can go to this would give you a competitive advantage. People would really appreciate who you are and understand what makes you different and special.

Sidebar: The good physician looked at me like I gone off the deep end. If he were a shrink I'm betting he would have made a referral before we deboarded.

I don't want to give them that information. There's too much on the internet already, the doc declared. Great opportunity to make sure they have correct information, I replied. But they don't need to know all that, he proclaimed. It would only confuse them. Besides there are not too many physicians, in fact there are not enough. And I'm too busy now. I don't need any more patients.

The old school doc volleyed a last remark,  I don't practice medicine that way.

My volley back, Perhaps you need to change the way you practice medicine. If I were you I'd keep on eye on blogs.

With the extent of current and correct information online (yeah sure this is ton of incorrect stuff) dynamics of the patient-physician relationship is shifting from one where the doc held all the answers to one where with a click of a mouse patients .. called often "consumers" have access to as much or more than their healthcare provider.

Way back in 2002 Harrris Interactive's research indicated that 90% of all adults who were internet savvy wanted to communicate with their physicians online.

Another 2002 research study this one by Greenfield Consulting Group and Roper ASW reported that beyond basic criteria (see the Future of Family Medicine Report) patients value the relationship. Couldn't not post a few verbatims:

There are so many doctors that if you're not happy with the relationship you should just leave.

I want a doctor who is interested in me and has genuine concern for me.

I don't want to be treated like a number they should be friendly and caring.

Where is this leading in terms of marketing and blogs?

No matter what my doc flight friend may think, as in so many other industries, his patients have much more control than he realizes. As the research (and common sense) shows us what might be termed "bedside manner" is becoming more critical to patients.

And why not?! People want to do business, and medicine is more than a business, with people they like and who they feel like them too. Yes, credentials and experience may play a more important role in choosing a heart surgeon than a barber or a marketer but as the above patient said - There are so many doctors that if you're not happy with the relationship you should just leave.

Blogs would be a powerful way to help build those relationships. Perhaps (some) physicians should  take their cue from (some) biz bloggers. Just a  thought....

Read more about medical blogs in Diva Marketing Biz Blog Profiles: 
Windber Medical
Center
March of Dimes
ACS

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Comments

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Posted by: Georgi Mammen Mullassery on Mar 13, 2006 5:45:50 AM

Toby:

Great post. Here are a few more benefits of healthcare provider blogs:

-Improving Treatment Practices: Some physicians share information about how to manage difficult cases via their blogs. At times, this information is not available in text books and provides much-needed guidance.

-Empowerment: Blogs can empower providers by giving them an outlet to share experiences and information with their peers and patients.

Blog evangelism -- I love it!

Posted by: Fard Johnmar on Mar 13, 2006 11:59:30 AM

There's also the cultural/group bias amongst physicians against doing lowly things like typing.

The younger ones are starting to "get it" since they've been raised with computers. The older ones likely never will.

Keep talkin' Ms. Diva!

Posted by: Mary Schmidt on Mar 13, 2006 7:16:19 PM

Just wanted to give a shout out to my brother's blog--www.medrants.com
Bob is an associate dean at the Medical School at the University of Alabama. He's been blogging for a long time and I would love to have his statistics! Yes, as the younger sister I suffer from blog -envy!

The thing is..a lot of doctors read his blog and participate in the conversation. While his blog is targeted to doctors, we lay folks can learn a lot about the issues they are debating in their field and it can make us much better educated health care users.

Posted by: Elana Centor on Mar 14, 2006 3:05:09 AM

Doctors are great bloggers. Check out Stephanie Siegrist's blog: www.knowyourbones.com . She's an orthopedic surgeon. (yes, my company published her book...I admit it! And helped her build her blog, but...we don't do anything else. SHE'S in charge of the blog. And, it's great.)

Posted by: Yvonne DiVita on Mar 14, 2006 12:41:55 PM

Thanks everyone for the new healtcare blogs to check out! As Mary pointed out the culture of an industry (healthcare in this case) or company will support/encourage/discourage adoption of new ideas. It's even more exciting to see people who are true innovators in healthcare marketing.

Posted by: Toby on Mar 14, 2006 6:21:03 PM

I think Toby's experience with the doubting doctor shows how far blogging still has to go to enter the consciousness of the majority of business and professional people. While the cutting edge members of the business and professional communities understand the power of blogs, the more traditional elements still have their doubts. That tells those of us, who are blog evangelists and blogging consultants, there is still much to do in spreading the blog word.

The potential for helping business and professional people add a blog component to their marketing, promotions, customer and client service, and public relations efforts is enormous. Oh, and a blog will beat the competition in the search engines too. :-)

Posted by: Wayne Hurlbert on Mar 14, 2006 8:34:31 PM

Here's the rest of a blogging success story, which I promised here a while back.

(Sorry for the change of subject, but it's about a fashion blog.)

The short version: a recent grad started a blog while she was job searching and had her blog's immediate huge success get her a job offer. She's now at http://papierblog.papierdoll.net/

Posted by: Peggy Payne on Mar 15, 2006 2:03:02 PM

Toby,

Great story about your doc flight mate. It resonates 100% with the approach I'm taking in my book, "The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right" (Penguin Portfolio - August 2006). The first sentence is... "Real people don't blog." It was a statement made by my husband (who happens to be a physician, like your seat mate). And it's meant to sum up the attitude that many, many professional folk have about blogging. Of course, I proceed in the rest of the book to explain how many "real" people are blogging, what it means and how it works.

Interestingly, however... I want to take exception to the idea that great benefits would accrue to doctors who blog. Doctors are already so busy, their time is so precious. My husband generally doesn't do email with his patients (it would take hours of additional time each day). I don't see him starting a blog either. The confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship is sacrosanct so he would never talk about specific cases. And approaches to - and treatments - for medical conditions are highly nuanced. Unlikely he would blog about that either. Unless he were the type who wanted to get up on a soapbox and in his (non-existent) spare time rant and rave about healthcare policy, I don't see a blog in his future.

Your thoughts??

Posted by: Debbie Weil on Mar 18, 2006 8:39:59 AM

I think it will be tough to get doctors blogging. Many don't want to commit the time to implement an Electronic Medical Record which would significantly help their practice. If they won't use that technology in their field I don't see them using blogging for a while.

Posted by: emrandhipaa on Mar 26, 2006 11:08:26 PM

Who says blogging is a waste of time. It depends on person to person. It depends on what you are blogging about. You can work blogs to your advantage in terms of knowloedge, experience, and eventually money.
For outsourcing voice, chat, email or back-office support, visit the website of Aumenta Call Center, India.
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Posted by: Inbound Call Center on May 11, 2006 11:03:37 AM

Everyone has their own perspective. there are people making money out of blogs. Adsense provides a mssive income to bloggers. I agree most of the people waste their time blogging but thats their own hobby. For outsourcing voice, chat, email or back-office support, visit the website http://callcenter.ramshyam.com

Posted by: Outsource Call Center on May 22, 2006 12:08:08 PM

Everyone has their own perspective. there are people making money out of blogs. Adsense provides a mssive income to bloggers. I agree most of the people waste their time blogging but thats their own hobby.

Posted by: Call Center India on Jun 12, 2006 8:27:42 AM

I am a cardiologist in South Florida who desparately needs an associate. Do you think I could use a blog to find another cardiologist? These search firms are not getting me what I want.

Posted by: Alan Rosenbaum, M.D. on Mar 17, 2007 6:31:06 PM

Dr. Rosenbaum - Will a blog help you find a great associate for your practice? I don't know .. but .. if you're willing to try a test I have an idea.

In addition to writing Diva Marketing, I have guest blogger privileges (sort of like doc privileges at hospitals other the main one you're affiliated with) at several blogs including Trusted MD - http://trusted.md/ - which draws readers from the medical community at-large. I'm happy to write a post and put it up on Trusted MD, along with asking for a bit of viral marketing help from the community. We can position this as an experiment in blogging and viral marketing.

If you're up to walking on the edge (which really isn't but people seem to think so) forward some details to me including contact information and let's see if blogging can find your cardiologist ;-)

By the way, if you're interested in blogs/social media the second (ever) Healthcare Blogging Summit is being held 4/30 in Las Vegas - http://trusted.md/ information on Trusted MD. Bloggy disclosure - I'm moderating one of the panels.

Posted by: Toby on Mar 17, 2007 6:46:28 PM

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Posted by: Live help Chat Software on Aug 23, 2007 8:58:12 AM

This definitely goes with all kinds of business, and I have noticed a strong trend amongst doctors not to have much of a relationship with their clients anymore. I wonder, really wonder, why this culture has developed in this way. Blogs do get doctors back into realising that relationship is key if you're a doctor. Many doctors – who obviously still care about relationship – are doing it. A doctor like the one you met, while he may be good, isn't the kind of doctor I would trust to know who I am next time I see him, and remember the entire history without looking at my file and saying, “Ah yes, number 378241, what can I do for you today?”

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