It’s understandable if you equate blogging with political rants or hilarious cat videos, so you might wonder why doctors need to blog. After all, how many doctors have time to write blog posts on top of seeing patients and promoting their practises’ services in today’s busier-than-ever health-care environment? However, you may not understand that doctors who blog and use other kinds of social media have a number of advantages over those who do not.
Doctors who blog claim they do so for a variety of reasons, including patient education, marketing, and humanising themselves.
In addition to promoting your practise, blogging can help doctors establish themselves as a reliable source of health information for their patients. While many patient education systems provide ready-to-use resources for doctors to share with patients, a blog allows you to personalise your message by including anecdotes from your own practise or a specific patient case study (in compliance with HIPAA guidelines, of course).
Here are four things to think about if you’re a doctor considering about starting a blog.
1. A blog can increase your visibility.
According to studies, 72 percent of consumers looked for health information online in the previous year, and eight out of ten of them began their search using a search engine. Despite this, the vast majority of Internet users never get beyond the first page of search results. As a result, it’s critical that your website appears near the top of the page. While results vary with each Google algorithm change, data suggests that publishing to a blog and other social networking sites such as Google+ on a regular basis can help pages rank higher in Google search results.
Sharing pages on social media expands your audience, therefore include social sharing buttons at the bottom of all your blog posts for readers who wish to share the content with their friends. It’s as simple as adding a widget or plugin in WordPress or Blogger, such as ShareThis or AddThis.
2. Blogs and social media can help attract new patients.
According to a Pew Research study, one of the most prevalent themes among Internet users looking for health information online was investigating doctors. One paediatrician who committed to using social media for a year to see if it made a difference in her practise had life-changing outcomes. She calculated that her blog or Facebook page brought her one new patient or family every week, resulting in an additional $70,000 in average billable income per year.
3. Blogging takes time, but can also save you time.
That same doctor discovered that blogging assisted patients and saved her time in the appointment room since she could send patients to a relevant and timely blog post she’d written herself to answer routine inquiries like “When do we start solid foods?”
But what about the time spent writing a blog? Others hire a ghostwriter, while others divide the workload with other practitioners and staff. You can also go back to prior posts and update or repackage them instead of writing brand-new entries once you’ve built up a body of information.
4. Blogging offers an outlet for connection and expression.
Many doctors who started blogging for marketing reasons soon discovered that there were additional benefits beyond improved search results and new patients. Blogging allows doctors to express themselves and connect with patients and peers outside of the exam room, which time-crunched doctors don’t always have.
Furthermore, having a published body of work, as well as a professional journal, can provide doctors with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that is separate from patient care. Blogging can also benefit you professionally by expanding your relationships and even recommendations. According to a recent survey, 31% of health-care workers use social media to network professionally.