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Blogging Forces You to Raise Your Standard

Posted on July 6, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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.

#HIMSS14 Highlights: Enthusiasm for Patient Engagement

Posted on March 7, 2014 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

Patient engagement solutions abounded at HIMSS14, though their levels of sophistication varied. Like many other commentators, I felt this was a big jump in interest over last year. It will be interesting to see if this level sustains into 2015, and how the same products will mature come HIMSS15 in Chicago.

The theme of engagement was heard most loudly in several educational sessions I attended. I was happy to pre-register for an Orion Health / ePatient Dave event; and make time at the last minute to attend a live demo of the new Blue Button Connector, and a brief presentation by Regina Holliday, founder of the Walking Gallery.

I believe ePatient Dave (aka Dave deBronkart) has been at this awhile, but the Orion Health lunch and learn I attended was my first opportunity to hear him tell his story live. And what a compelling story it was! It certainly resonated with the audience of about 75, and I couldn’t help but wonder why he wasn’t up on stage in a “From the Top” session. The theme that ran throughout his presentation and audience questions was the need for online patient communities, and the subsequent need for providers to let their patients know about them. Websites like PatientsLikeMe.com and Sharecare.com were brought up as interesting resources.

epatientdavewp

I headed from there to the exhibit hall, where HIMSS had set up a very nice learning gallery, complete with comfy chairs, swivel desktops and a nice presentation area. Lygeia Ricciardi spent a good 20 minutes going through the new Blue Button Connector website, which you can find here: http://bluebuttonconnector.healthit.gov/. While not a true, live demo, she did offer several screenshots, and was very forthcoming about the ONC’s plans and goals for the site. Apparently they see it as almost a marketing tool, similar to the Energy Star label you see on just about every appliance these days. The Blue Button symbol will hopefully come to be recognized as an endorsement of easy access to patient data. She was frank in saying that it’s not a panacea, but will be a powerful tool in the hands of consumers, and developers who choose to take advantage of its open source code and bake it into their own apps.

bluebuttonwp

It is literally a connector. The new website simply allows patients to connect to third parties that may house their medical records, such as payers, pharmacy, labs, physicians or hospitals, immunization registries and health information exchange portals. Knowing I already have a provider that participates in Blue Button via their athenahealth patient portal, I went through the “Physician or Hospital” steps to see how the Connector worked. I didn’t see my physician listed, so I’ll likely send an email to bluebutton@hhs.gov. The Connector is in beta right now, and Riccardi mentioned they are very interested in gathering as much user feedback as possible during this process, so I encourage you to check it out and drop them a comment or two.

I was back at the Learning Gallery the next afternoon to hear Regina Holliday of the Walking Gallery speak, and she did not disappoint. Like a preacher that just can’t stay in the pulpit, Regina passionately talked about the power patients have when they come together and demand change. It was my first time hearing her speak live and I was not disappointed. It was a powerful sight to see close to 30 Walking Gallery members stand up at the end of her session and show their jackets. Why they were not on a larger stage in front of a capacity audience is beyond me.

walkinggallery

That’s it for my notes from HIMSS. Next up on my conference dance card is the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference, taking place April 7-8 in Las Vegas, and hosted by Healthcarescene.com. I hope to see you there!

Finding #BlueButton at #HIMSS14

Posted on February 18, 2014 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I am having trouble believing HIMSS 14 is just a few days away. I am really looking forward to getting out of Georgia’s erratic weather and into Florida’s warmer temps. At least Orlando weather isn’t erratic. Check out the forecast:

weather

While I don’t think I’ll have time to lounge by the pool, I do anticipate having some fun playing tennis with a few #HITchicks early Monday morning. I hope Orlando’s daily rain shower holds off until later that afternoon.

I’m also looking forward to the Siemens Media Breakfast, a Lunch and Learn with ePatient Dave, HISTalkapalooza, the #HITsm tweetup, a session on health information and the Disney experience, the Georgia HIMSS networking reception, and of course the New Media Meetup (where you can meet many of your favorite Healthcarescene.com bloggers).

As I’ve been so focused on Blue Button news lately, I thought I’d see how many HIMSS sessions will be devoted to the topic. A quick search at HIMSSConference.org yields three:

sessions

The last session seems the most consumer-friendly, and right up my alley based on its objective of covering the current state of Blue Button, and its general description:

“Join experts from the from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) in an interactive session to learn more about several major developments in the world of consumer and patient engagement enabled by technology, and how you can participate. This session will cover policy initiatives, standards development, and resources available to members of the private and public sectors from ONC and our many collaborators.”

In other Blue Button news, it appears that “Blue Button healthcare technologies [are] primed to explode in [the] private sector,” according to a brief article at FederalNewsRadio.com. This is basically a rehash of last week’s news that several pharmacy associations and large retailers like Kroger, Walgreens and CVS are working to “standardize their prescription data based on Blue Button policies,” but it serves as a good reminder that Blue Button started out as a VA initiative. Is it just me or does it seem that much of today’s healthcare IT started out via government development or government mandate/incentive?

Feel free to drop me a line if you know of more Blue Button-related activities at HIMSS, or have other interesting events you think I (and my readers) should check out next week.