To Blog or Not to Blog

February 24, 2011 By Tobin 2 Comments

HIMSS11 held a “Meet the Bloggers” session moderated by Brian Ahier (Healthcare Technology & Government 2.0; Twitter: @ahier). Brian’s panel included veteran healthcare bloggers offering tips and insights for bloggers and potential bloggers.

As a percentage of the total physician population, there are relatively few bloggers. (Note: Twitter is considered a “micro-blog” and is not particularly effective for sharing complete thoughts and substantive subject matter.) Blogs can be an effectivepublishing format for physicians with thoughts and information to share. In fact, in some cases, blogs can supplant materials physicians used to fight to get into professional journals. Mind you, a blog does not need to be oriented to clinical topics, but instead whatever you are passionate about and would like to share with friends, colleagues and the world.

A recent NYT article titled Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter points out that blog usage has dropped among the young, but that’s more a factor of what kids want to share. As Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer stated in the article:

“If you’re looking for substantive conversation, you turn to blogs… You aren’t going to find it on Facebook, and you aren’t going to find it in 140 characters on Twitter.”

Whether you are a blogger looking to enhance your experience or someone thinking about giving it a try, David Ahier’s panel offered the following:
Goals/Motivation – Be clear what your goals are (each panelist explained their motivation for dedicating the time required to write. In 3 of the 4 cases they did it purely for passion on their topic. In one case, blogging was part of the panelist’s job). Dr Bill Crounse commented that blogging will not make you famous and it certainly won’t make you rich…but those are rarely explanations of why people want to write.
Appropriateness – Use common sense to determine what’s appropriate and not. This is equally important if you blog on your own time and must ensure your writing doesn’t violate your employer’s rules or confidentiality issues.
Tools – Leverage tools like Twitter, Bit.ly and site aggregators (ex. Hitsphere) to promote your content. (Tweetdeck & Hootsuite are 2 particularly popular tools for Twitter account management.
Blog Platforms – Two of the panelist use Typepad for their blogging tool of choice. While there are many more options, WordPress, Posterous and Tumblr are three other very popular tools with very different feature-sets.
Edit – A best practice is to save your post then edit before publishing. Some people even write a post in Word then copy and paste. You have to pay attention to the html that Word sometimes carries over into a post.

Panelists:
Bill Crounse, MD: Healthblog; Health Tech Today; @MicrosoftMD;
Christina Thielst: Christina’s Considerations; @cthielst
John Sharp: eHealth; @johnsharp
Deborah Leyva, RN: Healthcare & Technology; @dleyva08