Blogging is an excellent tool for your medical practice. It’s terrific for patient education, it builds authority for your practice, and it does more for SEO than anything else you can do for your website.
But medical blogging can also bring up concerns — concerns that may keep you stuck in indecision, planning to start writing for months or years before you actually take the plunge.
Here are some of the reasonable concerns about blogging for your medical practice, and our expert insights.
The Content Bubble
There are a lot of health, wellness, and medical blogs online. Government health agencies, national research foundations, and global health organizations have healthcare blogs. Large hospitals, small clinics, and private practice physicians have websites with medical blogs. Soccer moms, anti-vaxers, and essential oil enthusiasts have blogs with health information, too.
You may feel that there is already plenty being written about healthcare issues. But that can be part of the problem.
A parent worrying about baby eczema will generally Google “baby eczema” or “eczema in babies.” This search generates lots of conflicting advice. Visit your doctor — no, just treat your baby at home. Bathe your baby daily — no, avoid bathing baby, or try bathing your baby in a diluted bleach solution. They should use this lotion, that lotion, no lotion.
Blogging for your medical practice allows you to provide accurate information. Being able to read your advice at your website will be a confidence booster. for your patients.
You can also prepare blog posts as PDFs or generate QR codes and hand them out to patients, knowing that your specific advice will be available when they need it.
Concerns about HIPAA compliance can inhibit blogging by medical professionals, but that’s an overreaction. There are ways to ensure HIPAA-compliant blogging.
Don’t provide any identifiable information about patients. Of course, you shouldn’t include a patients name, but there are other identifying traits that are easier to overlook. This is especially true in smaller communities.
A case study or example can be a composite story about a typical individual. It shouldn’t begin with, “A local newscaster came in asking why his shock of ginger hair was beginning to thin.”
Make sure to write respectfully, too. A snarky tone may be very popular among private bloggers, but it has no place in blogging for your medical practice. A compassionate tone will be more effective and less likely to lead readers to think you’re being disrespectful — even when you’re not.
We’d say it makes sense to hire professional writers with experience blogging for medical professionals and organizations.
The writers at Haden Interactive have written for surgeons, physicians, chiropractic doctors, physical therapists, medical software companies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. We’ve probably already run into the issues that your blog might face, and we know how to avoid those issues.
Something that used to surprise us was how often people would comment at medical practice blogs with things like, “I was in last week and the nurse told me…”
It no longer surprises us, but we know it’s essential to be vigilant with comments.
If patients share private information, hide their comments and contact them immediately. You can also leave a comment, such as “Mrs. J., we’re glad to hear from you and we’ve emailed you privately about your question.” Either way, be sure to remove any private information as quickly as possible.
Include a Privacy or Terms page on your website, and make sure that it states clearly that reading the blog doesn’t constitute a doctor-patient relationship.
Here’s how the statement reads on a website we built:
“Please note that the information contained within this website is provided for informational and educational purposes only. The use of this website does not imply or establish any type of doctor/patient relationship. No diagnosis or treatment is being provided by the use of this website.”
Your legal advisor can tell you the most appropriate wording for your situation.
We’d say, don’t get carried away. Festooning your website with warnings can make it less welcoming, and there is no more legal power in having lots of disclaimers than in having something clear on your Terms or Privacy page.
Realistically, even once you have made firm decisions on these concerns, blogging may not be the best use of your time, even though it’s great for your practice’s website.
Contact us to discuss how we can handle it for you, giving you the benefits without the drawbacks.