For physicians, blogs can be valuable tools to promote their practice or to help boost their careers.
Blogs can serve many purposes. For physicians, they can be valuable tools to promote their practice or to help boost their own careers.
Bryan Vartabedian, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine, created his first blog in 2006, as a way to promote his book, “Colic Solved.” He began to see the potential of being visible to the public and online engagement. In 2008, he began the blog “33 Charts,” which focuses on the issues physicians face at the intersection of technology and medicine.
Vartabedian says creating a blog requires a large time commitment, and it’s not an investment that every physicians is prepared to make. For those physicians still interested in writing, he suggests contributing to surrogate blogs.
“A surrogate blog is just blogging on someone else’s space, for example, KevinMD.com,” he says. “It’s perfect for a doctor who just wants to write once or twice a month to improve their digital footprint.”
Those physicians should also consider contributing to a hospital or medical center blog. However, if physicians decide to host their own content on website like Wordpress or Blogger, Vartabedian says consistency is key.
“When you go out of the gate and try to create a post every day, it’s incredibly difficult,” he says. “You don’t want to create some sort of expectation that you can’t meet. On the other hand, if you truly want to develop an audience around a blog, it does require some sort of consistency. At a minimum, you need to post once a week, but optimally twice a week in order to maintain readership.”
But do all physician blogs need to be about healthcare?
“It comes back to the question: What’s your goal?” he says. “If your blog is centered around attracting patients, what you create has to appeal to that audience, in order for you to appear in search results and for people to revisit it.
If you have broader goals, for example if you’re a writer or public speaker, you want to branch out beyond just health topics. The challenge with health topics is there is so much information online. To create something that’s both compelling and unique is really difficult.”
The biggest mistake physicians make with blogging is that their posts are too lengthy, says Vartabedian.
“The digital consumer likes to get information in chunks,” he says. “It depends what you’re writing about, but the average consumer is probably going to stop reading around 400 words, regardless of the topic. You would have to have something that is really compelling to drag them out to 700 to 1,000 words.”