Today’s ACP Internist reports that nearly 1 in 8 doctors has a blog. This news comes from a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
First, the study’s flawed from a methodological standpoint: The investigators, based at the CDC, used data from a 2009 DocStyles survey of 1750 primary care physicians, pediatricians, obstetrician/gynecologists, and dermatologists in the U.S. According to the paper, this sample was drawn from the Epocrates Honors Panel. So they’re a technically-oriented bunch. Besides, the survey didn’t include oncologists, cardiologists, neurologists, radiologists or surgeons, among other physician-types.
Red flag: “Physicians who completed the survey were paid an honorarium of US $55–US$95.” This tells me that the doctors who participated have time on their hands and could use an extra $75 or so; it’s unlikely they’ve got thriving practices.
Blogging was defined as “posting commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video on a website which serves as an online journal.” The featured result was that 13% of the paid, internet-using physicians in the study said they blogged in the prior six months. The 226 bloggers tended to be young and male.
It’s unlikely that 1 in 8 doctors in the U.S. are blogging. I say this not just because the study’s flawed, but because almost all the physicians I know and trust with my health care don’t have time to write, unless they’re taking notes for a book, or do so as a hobby. They might, for example, blog about video games, or vegan recipes. But as far as their work is concerned, most non-shift doctors are lucky to see and examine all their patients, finish their notes and answer patients’ phone calls and get home by 11 PM.
In my view as a patient, if you’re a doctor and you blog for fun, there’s no issue. Blog away, and mind HIPPA. But if you’ve got anything else to do with your time, like -
- reading medical and scientific literature
- enjoying time with friends, family and others in your community
- spending one extra minute with each of your patients
- re-checking primary data and calculations before publishing research
- watching a movie
- having lunch with colleagues
- bowling, if that’s your thing…
- <insert your passion>
– live your life! Spend time wisely.
I want my doctors to be happy, up-to-date, and rested.
Besides, what’s the point of so many busy, needed health professionals writing about their experiences or opinions, except if it’s for their own satisfaction?