Blogging may seem like a daunting task for many doctors. However, it is an important way to not only bring more potential patients to your website, but to save clinical time and boost your reputation.
In this installment of “The Wired Practice,” Ron King discusses the benefits of doctor blogging. Learn how, when and what to write in order to increase your online presence and get the most out of your blogging efforts.
Let’s talk a little bit about doctor blogging. By now we’ve all heard an awful lot about celebrity bloggers and how some blogs can attract hundreds of thousand of online readers every month.
Of course, most physicians don’t write blogs in hopes of becoming famous. Instead, there are two good reasons to consider becoming a doctor blogger. The first is that it can save clinical time. A daily reality is that patients have lots and lots of questions – more than there’s time to answer in exam rooms and in patient consults. In these settings, healthcare providers talk to patients one to one. But on websites and in social media they can deliver the same important information to hundreds or thousands of healthcare consumers over and over for months and years to come. Plus, a doctor can refer patients to a blog after an appointment as a reminder of a physician-patient conversation during the appointment.
The other reason for blogging is that it can be good for a doctor’s reputation and her bottom line. Doctors’ blogs are often among the top-twenty most visited pages on their websites and frequently in the top ten. Google tells us this by how it ranks blogs in its search engine, and by the number of visits it records to blog pages on doctors’ websites. Some of the most successful, busiest physicians are also prolific bloggers. Squeezing out a little time for blogging once every month or two can pay huge rewards in patient growth and loyalty.
One popular myth about blogging is that you have to feed the machine weekly or even daily. The truth is, however, that even occasional blogging can both bring more new patients to a medical practice and also generate personal satisfaction by serving as public educator.
So how often should a doctor blog? Much depends on the specialty. A primary-care physician tends to get more general health questions and thus has more patient curiosity to satisfy on more topics. Unfortunately, PCPs are also often the busiest providers. Given their time squeeze, PCPs might consider a telegraphic style of blogging once a month. That is, they can post stream-of-consciousness thoughts on general health issues and common patient questions once every four weeks or so. The writing style can be informal and conversational. You can even compose some blogs in a Q&A or FAQ format, though it’s not a good idea to write all of them that way because you’ll bore some readers.
The situation is a bit different for specialists and sub-specialists. New clinical information and research developments in certain specialties don’t always evolve as quickly or voluminously as in primary care. The net effect is that specialists can blog at about half the frequency of PCPs: about once every two months at minimum. This at least conveys some sense of regular activity on the blog and keeps readers coming back for more.
We’re out of time now, so we’ll cover other topics in our next installment of The Wired Practice: namely, how to set up a blog, how to pick good blog topics, and how to keep each blog on topic and expert-opinionated within ethical and practical guidelines.