Unscrewing Medicine with Healthcare Social Media

Flashback: Blogging as a medium to spread health care issues and advocacies

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While still undecided what article to post first for 2011 , I read my first ever post in this blog. I was nostalgic and a bit in awe. I never really thought I’d come this far with just writing and posting my health care ideas online. More so, raise some eyebrows and grab attention to my online discourses.

physician blogging

It was an unfamiliar  niche back then, with awfully fewer local  health care blog icons to emulate while I’m still familiarizing myself with blogging as a social media. I was dipping my toes on an uncharted system, a free for all, but  risky undertaking especially for physicians who are generally viewed as conservatives and slow (or even critical ) at adapting to any form of social media.

Friendster, Myspace and Multiply are booming back then, but these forms of social media target the personal “online space” market.  Facebook and Twitter is still in its infancy and internet penetration in the Philippines (roughly 3-5%) is almost the same as our health care budget  today. The health care niche is a new frontier with some risky uncertainties. You don’t know what type of readers you get when you write health care ideas online. We also don’t have a specific measure to know who’s reading what you rant about online and if your “message”  reaches your specific target audience.

Still, the potential remains. There’s not much holding someone full of ideas and a baggage of English grammar rehabilitation program.  There’s lot of free online space to practice. Just don’t press the “publish” button without  having the read your draft 5 times.

My strategy then was to use personal experiences and then sharing them online as a “jump off” point to get my messages message across a broad spectrum of readers. Knowing that the personal online space market is popular back then (it is up to now I suppose), it’s the best way I can capture or grab the attention of potential readers. It is a very risky strategy in fact, since much of health care issues are” grey zones” and the health care community is strongly comfortable with health care conservatism. Social media back then was the realm of the online geeks.

Again, I saw it as an opportunity  or rather, an alternative form of spreading some of my health concerns and advocacies. There’s no better alternative for me than the fast,  easy and lower cost of publishing  ideas, online. Blogging and the new social media also opened the gates for building communities of critical minds exchanging ideas and creating an even bigger community of health care online front liners.  Of course regulations regarding its use like HIPAA or a set of online health blogging ethics (HONE Code) has to be in place for this potential to be truly maximized. Nonetheless, blogging as an alternative social media has the potential to erase that obstacle in spreading health care issues and advocacies brought about by the costly  and slower traditional forms of media .

The question now is “can we sustain this form of social media? Is it here to stay or is it on its way down? Leave your answers in the comment section below!

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Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is previously Chief of Clinics at St. Louis Hospital in Tacurong City and a consultant in Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (www.remomd.com).

4 Comments

  1. I still find few doctors who frequently blog nowadays. I think most are busy still at work, myself included (though I'm somehow still able to find some time to nurture my little blogs). I'm actually looking for some resident physicians who would want to start with a new blog with me. However, my theory is that there are even fewer resident physicians-in-training who're into blogging. Hehe.

  2. @Prudence I agree. But i see a renewed interest in blogging among medically inclined bloggers. The microblogging platform and the social media networks just too personal to handle issues needing a more serious look…

    OT: shall we restart blog rounds?

  3. Yes, it is very difficult for practicing clinicians to find time to seriously blog with regularity but there are other physicians like myself who are aligned in the academe, in the laboratory or in public health. I see blogging is a very good tool for health education and it is perfect for those into public health. It is just a matter for other doctors to be aware that blogging is not just an online diary of sorts.

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