Blogging Forces You to Raise Your Standard

e-Patient Dave has a great story up about his wife’s knee replacement surgery done by the popular social media orthopedist Howard Luks. There are many items to note in e-Patient Dave’s write up of his wife’s experience with Dr. Luks. However, I couldn’t help but consider the impact that Howard Luks’ blogging has had on his practice.

The most obvious impact is that he’s gotten new patients from his blogging. While e-Patient Dave’s wife is one example, he’s done many posts talking about how new patients have found him through his blog and social media efforts. I won’t dig into this more since I think most doctors realize this can happen.

What I think is less obvious is that I believe blogging holds Howard Luks to a higher standard. Think about what happens when you choose to blog about something. You’re now on the record for how you’d approach something and you’re now accountable to it. By its very nature, this accountability requires a doctor (or anyone in any field) to step up to the plate and make sure that they’re working at the highest level possible. No one wants to blog about something and then be called out for not doing what they were telling other people to do.

This is a scary thing for many people and no doubt it’s why many people choose not to blog. They don’t want to be accountable to their blog. I should also note that blogging about something doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect. Some blogs can be exploratory and can help you learn and grow so that you can reach “perfection.” In fact, one of the best reasons to blog is to help you refine and improve what you’re doing. I’m sure Howard Luks has benefited from this as well. There’s nothing like thousands of people educating you on why and how you’re wrong you can improve.

While this accountability is powerful, what’s even more powerful about blogging is that it requires you to really sit down and think through why and how you do something. This is especially true for physician bloggers. That time spent thinking through and evaluating your processes is powerful. I think you see the results of this type of deep thinking in the results described by e-Patient Dave above. His wife likely benefited from Howard Luks spending time thinking deeply about how he practices medicine and ensuring he is practicing in the most effective way possible.

I’m not saying you have to be a blogger and share your processes publicly to think deeply about the way you practice. However, blogging publicly about how you practice medicine is a great way to force yourself to do this evaluation. Plus, the fact that people are going to read, evaluate, comment, rip to shreds, give feedback, and help you refine your approach forces you to raise your standard.

I’ve seen this happen over and over again with blogging. It’s had that effect on me as a father once I started my daddy blog. I had to start upping my game as a father since I couldn’t write about how I was an average father that had average experiences. I was forced to become the father I wanted to be. My wife has benefited too since who wants to write about being the lazy husband who doesn’t do the dishes? It doesn’t work. However, I can write about the amazing experience of putting the dishes away even though I wanted to sit down with some TV.

How often in medicine do doctors prefer to sit down with TV as opposed to going the extra mile to optimize their practice? Blogging can change that paradigm.

I’ve seen the same happen for healthcare IT and EHR companies. Once these companies blog about the importance of EHR up time or making EHR software usable, they raise the standard for how they approach those two problems. First, they’re not going to blog about those things if they haven’t worked hard to make sure they’ve done a good job in those areas. Second, once they’ve blogged about it, it often becomes part of the culture of who they are at the company. In fact, healthcare IT CEO’s have to be a little careful about what they blog about since it’s a powerful medium that can push their company in the right or wrong direction. A few pointed blog posts can really impact a company’s culture. Although, as a user I definitely prefer a healthcare IT vendor that blogs. I think it forces the company to think critically and deeply about the challenges their customers face. Plus, it gives you a view into the culture of the company.

Going back to where we started. Would e-Patient Dave have written such a glowing article about his wife’s visit to Howard Luks if Dr. Luks wasn’t blogging? The obvious answer is no since it would have been unlikely that e-Patient Dave would have known about Dr. Luks. While this is true, I also think that many of the processes and approaches that e-Patient Dave describes would likely not be in place if Dr. Luks wasn’t such an avid blogger. Blogging about your business forces you to raise your standard.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

3 Comments

  • Hi John – long time no chat!

    I’m glad you liked the post. I’m in post-getting-home dig-out-from-everything mode so I’ll be brief here:

    I’ve long been open, myself, in discussing the challenges of my own business. I don’t know if blogging is the chicken or the egg, compared to self-scrutiny or “living the examined life,” as they say.

    One thing I know for DARN sure: Howard is generous with his knowledge, ALL his knowledge. To him it’s not his exclusive asset with which he’ll secretly out-compete his rivals; it’s for the benefit of humanity, and he is a contributor.

    That’s something to think about.

    (And yes, without social media there’s no way I would have crossed paths with him, so there’s no way my wife would have met him, etc. Another exemplar of #hcsm both professionally and business-wise is @MacOBGyn, if you haven’t run across him; he says that by pushing out good information (on Facebook, where his patients hang out) he finds they make better choices in life … and yes, when one of their friends seeks a new doc, they say “Jeff’s great – and he’s on Facebook.)

    BUT anyone who wants to be on Facebook had better be there authentically – don’t hang out there with a bogus facade. During my skin cancer episode a couple of years ago a doc at “a huge major west coast provider” was giving me really good practical advice – then he suddenly disappeared. Turns out his employer had squashed him. That major provider no longer has a trace of respect from me – to the contrary, I now know they’re gamers.

    Howard, in contrast, is the real deal – exactly who he represents himself to be. And that’s what I think every patient should seek.

  • e-Patient Dave,
    It has been too long since we’ve chatted. I’m glad we’re reunited.

    You’re so right about authenticity on social media. Inauthentic people get caught and pay the price long term. Occasionally they can fake it in the short term, but social media pays a heavy price when you’re discovered as being fake.

    Thanks for sharing your added insights. I’m always amazed at how much more you get in return when you take a give first approach without any expectation of return.

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