The majority of physicians are still leery of blogging.  Fear of HIPAA  violations are listed as the number one deterrent.

But what about your patients doing the blogging?

According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 13% of patients blog about their health symptoms, experiences and diagnosis. More than one third of internet users have viewed medical issues in Forums, chat rooms, blogs or websites that other people have posted.

Benefits of Patient Blogs 

Advantages or benefits that patient blogs provide include:

  • Sharing therapy updates with friends and family without having to rehash the story repetitively
  • Introducing  new treatments that may not have been an option to the patient yet
  • Sharing symptoms in depth so that new diagnoses can be recognized
  • Giving a sense of community and lack of isolation
  • Offering hope
  • Linking to additional resources and Community support

University of Texas-Austin researcher and psychologist points out that in his studies, people expressing their strong emotional upsets on paper enjoy a stronger immune system and improved health.

According to Sona Mehring, the founder and CEO of Caring Bridge which is a company offering sites for patient blogging, the blogging is

“almost something that needs to be prescribed.  It’s proven itself to be a highly accessible, low-cost method of helping people cope with their illness.  It needs to be part of the care plan”

Help For Doctors 

Nancy Morgan, director of the art and humanities program of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center shows patients how to write and share thoughts to help cope with their medical conditions. Research by her and colleagues found that posting online about their illness and experiences appears to provide an organizing effect in their minds.  Morgan points out that

“The writing helps them make sense of it or figure out what they want to say to their family.”  Even more important, “You can organize your thoughts and tell your doctor, This is what I need”.

Hearing all the medical issues and new symptoms or developments, allows doctors to offer more comprehensive treatments because they are in on what is going on.

Additionally, by doctors encouraging patients to blog about their health, it shows that they have empathy.

In the end, isn’t that what medicine and health care is all about?  The caring that we do for one another- showing we care.

What has your experience been with patient blogs and community forums.  Share your thoughts in the comment box below.