Healthcare & Blogs: Should We Believe The Hype?

December 18, 2016

Physicians, healthcare executives, pharmaceutical companies and others have been slow to jump on the blogging bandwagon. The primary reason is because they have a negative opinion of blogs. Some believe that blogs are filled with inaccurate information and cannot drive sales of healthcare products and services.

In some respects, this negative perception of blogs is justified. This is because
blogs are far from a perfect communications medium. Some of the reasons for this
include:

– It Is Difficult To Vet Blog Content: Currently, there is no standard set of
criteria people can use to determine whether a blog is credible

– There Are No Metrics: There is a lot of anecdotal evidence indicating
that blogs may impact a company’s bottom line, but no hard statistics showing how
blogs have driven sales or changed customer perceptions

– Blogging Is Hard Work: Blogs take a lot of time and effort to develop
and grow. Unless a blog is integrated into an organization’s long term
communications strategy, it may not be successful

Why Blogs Deserve A Serious Look

Despite the many drawbacks associated with blogs, executives, physicians and other
players in the healthcare industry should take them seriously. Blogs are poised to
significantly impact many aspects of healthcare, including perceptions of medical
products and the relationship between providers and patients. Following is a brief
overview of some of the key ways blogs may influence the healthcare industry.

Healthcare Blogs and the Provider-Patient Relationship

In July 2005, Harris Interactive released a poll indicating that 117 million Americans
have turned to the Internet for healthcare information. Think about this for a
moment. This survey suggests that online health information may be having a
profound influence on the healthcare provider-patient relationship. This means that
people may already be using information posted by providers, experts, patients and
others on blogs in conversations with their physicians.

Healthcare Blogs and Market Research

Healthcare blogs are already affecting healthcare-related communications activities,
including market research. Nielsen BuzzMetrics, an Internet monitoring firm, reports
that 14 of the world’s top 15 pharmaceutical companies are already using its
services to track “buzz” about their products on blogs and other “consumer-
generated content” (i.e., bulletin boards, podcasts, etc.). As the healthcare
“blogosphere” expands, the influence of blogs may only increase.

Healthcare Blogs and Disease Management

Healthcare blogs are also having an impact on medical treatment. For example, a
number of physicians have developed blogs that provide information to healthcare
providers on how to manage common and rare medical conditions. These blogs are
highly ranked on major search engines and are widely read.

Blogs and Healthcare: More Than Hype

So, should healthcare executives, pharmaceutical companies and others believe the
hype about blogs? Maybe so, maybe not. However, at the very least, they should
learn as much as they can about what blogs mean for healthcare and think about
whether launching one is worth the effort. When it comes to blogs, knowledge is
power.

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