HIPAA-compliant blogging is essential for health professionals’ websites. But the Department of Health and Human Services offers some more general guidelines for blogging.
They’re thinking about appropriate patient and client communication more than SEO, but their advice doesn’t contradict what Haden Interactive and other SEO firms tell you. Here’s a quick summary of HHS blog advice.
Why have a blog?
HHS says offices and agencies should have blogs because a blog is a good way to communicate. It makes offices more human and interactive. A blog can foster a community, too, and encourage web visitors to engage with one another as well as with your office.
If you’re a government office, your blog encourages open government and connects citizens with public servants.
For health professionals and any health and wellness related company, we’d add that your blog provides an opportunity for responsible wellness education. Studies show that up to 80% of Americans get health information online — and that more than half of the information available is false. From a public health standpoint, blogging is a valuable service.
Who should not have a blog?
HHS says that blogging is a big commitment. If you don’t have the resources to write regularly, they say, don’t start. Not only must you be prepared to blog regularly, but you also have to be ready to do the following things:
- Have a system that involves proofreading blog posts and checking them for errors.
- Keep your blog looking good with design and tech skills.
- Moderate comments. This includes protecting people from leaving their personal information, preventing spam comments, and policing offensive language.
- Promote your blog.
If you are too busy to do this, let Haden Interactive help you. We have a long history of successful blogging for a variety of organizations, and we can help you. HHS opposes ghostwriting (having a professional write and putting your name on the posts). We don’t oppose ghostwriting, but most of our clients choose to have their organization be the official author, rather than using an individual’s name.
HHS also says you should consider whether your audience is likely to read blogs (77% of internet users do). Finally, they suggest, think about whether you have something valuable to say.
What’s a good blog?
HHS has quite a list of advice on blogging. We can boil it down to these three great pieces of advice:
- Write clearly, with understandable language and simple sentences.
- Follow normal best practices in your use of titles, tags, and categories.
- Include images and links to explanatory information and additional facts as appropriate.
That’s the scoop on what HHS thinks a good blog is. They have another piece of advice that isn’t about creating a blog, but instead is about managing your blog. Read all comments and engage with your readers. That’s good advice. If you use a professional blogging service you should determine who will manage the comments and when your blogger should alert you to comments you might not have seen.
Haden Interactive has been a WordPress shop for some years. We think there are advantages to using WordPress if you want to follow the HHS guidelines for your blog. It’s easier for you and your web team to set up a review system for blog posts, and easier and more economical to take care of tech issues.
If you use WordPress, you have plenty of options for managing comments and setting alerts.
WordPress is one of the blogging platforms with which the Department of Health and Human Services has signed a Terms of Service agreement.
Blogging has a lot of value for healthcare professionals, health and wellness organizations, companies focusing on health — and, as HHS says, for government offices. If you need support for your blogging, we at Haden Interactive are happy to help. Fill out the simple form below, or shoot us an email at info@HadenInteractive.com