Good doctor blogging is a lot like good doctoring: Listen to patients and try to meet their needs. Extra points for being funny, warm, thoughtful and, most of all, engaging. Try some or all of these patient-friendly content types on your medical practice blog:
1. Answer frequently asked questions
Howard J. Luks, an orthopedic surgeon in Westchester and Dutchess Counties, New York, bases his blog on questions his patients ask in office, writing posts such as “Why Does the Front of My Knee Hurt?” and “You Have Torn Your Meniscus: What’s Next?” He explains how he comes up with blog post ideas in “Great Medical Blog Content: Think Like a Patient”.
2. Give health tips (with numbers)
For some reason, titles with numbers do well on the internet, probably because they promise the reader quick, concise information delivery. Take a look at “Atrial Flutter — 15 facts you may want to know” from the blog of cardiologist John Mandrola in Louisville, Kentucky.
3. Shoot video
Las Vegas internist Zubin Damania’s blog is a collection of parody music videos starring his alter ego ZDoggMD—they’re a little bit educational and a lot funny. That’s him in the image above, explaining Obamacare. Watch Damania do Taylor Swift as a doctor-shopping pill addict in “Blank Script” and Garth Brooks in “Friends with Low Platelets”. If you don’t have his singing and acting talent, a simple explanatory video like “What is Plantar Fasciitis?” by Philadelphia sports podiatrist Lee S. Cohen is fine. Just don’t expect to get ZDogg’s hundreds of thousands of video views on YouTube.
4. Chronicle the silly side of daily life as a doc
The author of the Dr. Grumpy in the House blog is anonymous, and a good thing too because the blog is all about the inane things his or her patients do or say, mostly told in verbatim dialogue, like this phone call:
Mrs. Call: “My husband is having a seizure. He sees Dr. Nerve for epilepsy.”
Dr. Grumpy: “Okay, do you have a medication to give him for seizures?”
Mrs. Call: “It’s in the bathroom. Can’t I just hold the phone next to him and you tell him to stop?”
5. Explore the doctor-patient relationship
Dr. Val Jones runs health education company Better Health and her blog posts at GetBetterHealth.com like “Why Do Patients Lie to Doctors?” go to the heart of the doctor-patient relationship and are equally readable by those on both sides of the stethoscope. She suggests some blog post topics for doctors in this list.
6. Filter the news
Patients need a guide to point out what’s important in the mountain of health news and information on the internet. That could be you. Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s The Chart blog on CNN.com is a good example of creating a news feed by highlighting a few of the many medical studies that get published.
7. Pick a niche, be an authority and do it with a distinctive voice
Greenville, South Carolina, pediatrician Chad Hayes blogs on “demystifying parenting and pediatrics” in a straight-talking style, like the post “Just Call It ‘Colic’: The Diagnosis That Isn’t”, a refreshing admission that doctors don’t really know much about a common condition. Colin E. Champ, a Pittsburgh radiation oncologist, blogs at CavemanDoctor.com, advocating for the “caveman diet” and critiquing conventional wisdom in medicine, diet and exercise.
And watch this blog for more tips and inspiration…
Pioneering doctor blogger Kevin Pho, a primary care doc in Nashua, New Hampshire, gives hands-on advice on running a blog and links to the latest posts from hundreds of other doctor blogs at KevinMD.com.
Image: Dr. Zubin Damania, AKA ZDoggMD