Less than a year ago, I didn’t even know what a blog was. Many physicians still don’t know about them, and yet (according to Wikipedia’s September ’07 figures) there are over 106 million blogs currently online. A recent article about medical blogs suggests that the number of health professionals blogging may be in the order of 100’s. Therefore, medical blogs are only a tiny drop in the blogosphere bucket.
As with IT initiatives in general, the medical world is sorely lagging behind. However, there is a small group of pioneers who are already making a difference in the lives of patients and colleagues around the world. I have witnessed with my own eyes how cancer patients are being directed towards optimal care through blogs like those of Dr. Heinz Josef Lenz. Although he practices in southern California, his blog has been discovered by colon cancer patients across the country – and he has a loyal following who learn about cutting edge research and clinical trial information three times a week. These patients would never have access to this kind of information without his blog – they would have to wait for research to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and then hope that the media would faithfully translate the findings into consumer language. (Good luck with that.)
Some blogs are being used to educate peers about surgical techniques. Dr. Bates has a wonderful, detailed blog about how to correct cosmetic defects, and a group blog called Inside Surgery has information for surgeons about difficult or unusual cases.
Dr. Rob, our Grand Rounds host this week, does a wonderful job of educating others about primary care, physical exam basics, and the broken healthcare system. He does it with flair – and a whimsical approach that is very entertaining. Where else can you learn about the healthcare system AND the lifestyle habits of llamas, goats, and accordion players?
If you want to keep up with healthcare news – KevinMD is a one-man news feed of all the most interesting goings on. If you need to keep up with advances in the medical device industry, MedGadget is your one stop shop.
Of course there are many other great medical blogs out there as well (and so many nursing blogs, like Emergiblog are outstanding)- but what excites me the most is when I see patients benefiting from the information they receive directly from healthcare professionals. Blogs can truly improve access to the minds of medicine, and even save lives – Medical blogs have the power to:
1. Educate patients about their health
2. Debunk medical myths
3. Cut through the media spin associated with research and health news
4. Influence health policy
5. Instruct other healthcare professionals
6. Expose dishonest medical schemes
7. Increase awareness of clinical trials and important research
8. Provide emotional support
9. Create a networking opportunity for professionals, advocates, and patients
10. Help people navigate the broken healthcare system
If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll add your voice to the medical blogosphere, and be part of a movement to change healthcare – one blog post at a time.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.