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Posts from the ‘Behind the Scenes’ Category

Behind the Scenes of Medical Blogs: Kevin, MD

kevin.jpgThis month, I’m going to present famous medical bloggers to you. My aim is to get my readers closer to these quality blogs and the bloggers as well. I’d like to convince more and more health professionals/people interested in medicine to create their own blogs by providing interesting “behind-the-scenes” interviews. The fifth blogger in this series is Dr.Kevin Pho, a Nashua physician and internal medicine specialist; one of the most active and famous medical bloggers, who runs Kevin, MD.

  • How do you find information for your blog? You certainly read other blogs, journals but do you use RSS reader? How many blogs do you track?

I start the day off reading the blogs on my feeds page, and linking to any pieces that I find interesting. For an RSS aggregator, I use Google Reader, and subscribe to about 50-75 sources. I also browse keyword searches (i.e. keywords like “health”, “doctor”, or “patient”) from Google’s Blogsearch which often leads me to relevant medical stories.

  • Sometimes you have 10-15 posts a day. How can you maintain such a dynamically updated blog? How much time does it take?

I generally spend about 2-3 hours a day maintaining the blog and average between 10-25 posts daily. They are in 5 to 15 minute chunks in the morning, lunch and after everyone is sleeping at night. I generally find all my links in advance, then slowly publish them throughout the day.

  • In most of the cases, you work like an aggregator, but you also comment on the news and your articles. How often do you have time to create own content?

I create much less content now than I used to. There simply isn’t enough time to both aggregate and write original pieces. Occasionally I’ll write an op-ed on topics that I feel are important (such as the recent one on Medicare payment cuts and defensive medicine.

I prefer to comment and link to articles that I find interesting. It could range from an unusual case to serious talk on health policy. I try to blog in a polarizing manner to incite discussion and debate. Taking a position down the middle makes for a boring blog.

  • Do your colleagues know about your blog or comment on your articles? Do they appreciate your work? Do they know you’re considered a semi-professional blogger?

Yes, my colleagues are aware of my blog and support it. Most of them read my blog regularly, and it has been featured in several local newspapers.

  • The best aggregators, after some time, get many e-mails so they don’t really have to search for new content. About how much percent of your articles are based on suggestions/links received by e-mails?

I receive about 10-20 tips a day from readers, which I truly appreciate. I would estimate that around 10 percent of my content comes from my readers who email me.

  • I almost never see your articles in blog carnivals. Why don’t you want to participate more in the events of the medical blogosphere?

I link to Grand Rounds weekly and have hosted it 3 times. On many weeks, I simply don’t have the original content to warrant a submission, however I will still submit the op-eds that I write.

  • At last, what are your future plans with your blog?

Right now, the blog has received some mainstream media attention and is one of the more well-trafficked health blogs. I think it is an ideal medium to discuss and express problems facing practicing physicians today. People not involved with healthcare really have no idea what goes on “behind the curtain”. My goal is to pull that curtain back and expose the frustrations that doctors deal with on a daily basis.

Many readers have strong opinions and often disagree with my views. I encourage these voices, and believe that the more attention we can bring to these problems, the closer we can come up with a resolution.

There is no question that American health care will undergo a revolution in the next decade. Unfortunately, a lot of these changes will happen without input from the physician community. My blog will be one way doctors can have a voice in this sea of change.

Thank you, Kevin, for the interesting answers and keep on informing us about all the fields of medicine!

Behind-the Scenes interviews so far:

Behind the Scenes of Medical Blogs: Eye on DNA

hsien.jpgThis month, I’m going to present famous medical bloggers to you. My aim is to get my readers closer to these quality blogs and the bloggers as well. I’d like to convince more and more health professionals/people interested in medicine to create their own blogs by providing interesting “behind-the-scenes” interviews. The fourth blogger in this series is Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei, definitely the most famous genetic blogger, the writer of Eye on DNA.

  • How do you find information for your blog? Do you read other blogs, journals or you use RSS reader? How many blogs do you track?

I use a number of sources for Eye on DNA depending on the topic I’m developing. For news, I have Google Alerts set-up and also have a custom search term in Google News that scans for everything related to genetics and DNA. I subscribe to RSS feeds for PLoS journals and Medical News Today. I also read a number of magazines that often mention genetics, such as Scientific American, New Scientist, and The Atlantic. Books are a great resource as well and as expected, I have a growing collection related to genetics.

As for blogs, I always scan through The DNA Network and ScienceBlogs. I’m currently subscribed to over 300 RSS feeds in Google Reader but that’s a mix of everything, not just science.

  • How do you find time to write such detailed posts and to host the most respected carnivals?

Blogging is a priority for me. It’s the way I stay motivated to continue learning more and processing my opinions on genetics and related topics. It’s also the way I build my personal brand, which is particularly important because I’m a self-employed biotech consultant. Also important, blogging makes it possible for me to have a conversation with likeminded people. Because I work from home, blogging is a key part of staying connected.

  • Are you a semi-professional blogger?

I used to work for a blog network as a paid writer and editor, but I no longer consider myself a professional blogger. If ever I decide to put all my eggs in the blogging basket again, I’ll call myself a problogger but as of now, I’m trying to be what Chris Garret calls an “authority blogger.”

  • Does blogging help your career?

Absolutely, writing a genetics blog has put me in touch with many of the movers and shakers in genetics and genomics. It’s how I met the people at DNA Direct and later joined them as a consultant. Through blogging, I can demonstrate my expertise and writing skills to a wider audience.

  • You have a professional design and layout. You organize competitions. Do you work on it alone or you have a computer geek in the family?

I AM the computer geek in the family! I’m not so keen on the hardware and software aspects but I spend an unhealthy amount of time online so I know the Web pretty well. I also read TechCrunch and other tech blogs regularly to stay on top of the latest. I learned about website design and maintenance when I was working at b5media and continue to challenge myself as much as I can.

As for the competitions, it’s a way to thank my readers for taking the time to visit and leave comments. If there were an easier way to draw winners without there having to be tangible participation like commenting, I would do it. As it stands, comments are the only way I can keep a record of who has entered.

  • You work as a consultant for DNA Direct. Does it cause any change in your topics?

Yes, working for DNA Direct means that I’m more careful about the topics I write about. It’s not because they’re censoring me, quite the contrary. I’m careful because I don’t want to present any conflict of interest. In any post touching on medical genetic testing or a potential competitor of DNA Direct, I always state clearly that I am currently a consultant for DNA Direct. Be forewarned that not all bloggers are so upfront with their affiliations.

  • At last, what are your future plans with your blog?

I haven’t had much time lately to plan out the future of EyeOnDNA.com beyond a week or two. I can say, however, that I intend to stay at my own domain and avoid being assimilated into a network (unless the offer were mighty sweet). I’ve had that experience already and prefer staying independent.

In addition to writing more in-depth posts at Eye on DNA, I want to try writing beyond the blog. Maybe you’ll see my name in a magazine or book one of these days if I can push myself out of my comfort zone!

Behind-the Scenes interviews so far:

Behind the Scenes of Medical Blogs: davidrothman.net

This month, I’m going to present famous medical bloggers to you. My aim is to get my readers closer to these quality blogs and the bloggers as well. I’d like to convince more and more health professionals/people interested in medicine to create their own blogs by providing interesting “behind-the-scenes” interviews. The third blogger in this series is David Rothman, the world’s most famous medical librarian.

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  • How do you find information for your blog? You certainly read other blogs, journals but do you use RSS reader? How many blogs do you track?

I use Google Reader and I’m currently subscribed to about 530 feeds. Offhand, I have no idea how many of those are blogs. I keep tabs on buzz in the biblioblogosphere and the medical blogsphere by using LibWorm and MedWorm.

  • You have an incredible number of feedreaders (950)! How did you reach that awesome number? Could you loan me some? :)

I don’t think that’s really an incredible number of subscribers. After all, it is a tiny percentage of the total number of anglophonic medical libraryfolk (my target readership) and I’m a bit skeptical about how reliable FeedBurner numbers are. You’re welcome to borrow as many as you can carry with you, Berci. ;)

  • You’re a real web 2.0 geek. Tell us your opinion on web 2.0 and medicine! What kind of changes would you like to see in medicine?

I’m not really a “web 2.0 geek.” I am increasingly uncomfortable with the uses of the “2.0” suffix, be it after “Web,” “Library,” or “Medicine.” I like to write about “social software” or “emerging Web technologies,” but I don’t think that the ” 2.0″ label is helpful and I think it’ll get even less helpful as time passes.

I think that the evolution of information technology could potentially have an incredible impact on medicine in the next 30 years, but I really don’t believe that the greatest benefits will come from blogs, wikis, social bookmarking or any of the other currently popular social technolgies. Certainly, these tools can be good and helpful, but I don’t expect they’ll revolutionize medicine.

What I get excited about is the way that new technologies can enable clinicians to keep up with the news, trends and literature of their specialties. I also think that the medical librarian will have a very different role to play in being the go-to person in a clinical setting to help a clinician make use of these technologies.

  • A helpful and web 2.0 based medical librarian could be the right-hand of a physician. Don’t you plan to work in Debrecen?

Nah. The best right-hand for a physician is probably a Physician Assistant.

It is a very short train ride from Debrecen to Budapest, isn’t it? Very tempting. When you finish your training, be sure to let me the salary and relocation expenses you’re offering as incentives. ;)

  • What about the other medical librarians? Have they discovered you and your blog? Do they consider you as a “leader” regarding your topics?

Based on a poll, I’d estimate that about 60% of my blog’s readers are medical librarians or medical library paraprofessionals. I’m not really qualified to estimate how I am regarded among medical libraryfolk, though I’ve been invited to present to librarians at the Mayo Clinic and at MLA 2008 (the annual meeting of the professional association for U.S. Medical Librarians) – so those appear to be good signs that a handful of people think I’m speaking out of the correct orifice. Some individual medical librarians who I respect and admire have said some nice things about my blog, and that’s pretty exciting for someone who has only been working in this field for a couple of years.

  • I’m pretty sure that you get plenty of mails about new tools/services. How often do you have to search for new content on the web?

Actually, I don’t get very much email about new tools and services. Thanks to the glory and wonder of RSS, most of the stuff I write about is discovered in the daily review of my Google Reader account. I do very little searching unless I’m researching for a post I’m already writing.

  • Why don’t you start a medical librarian blog carnival?

Mostly because the adminstration of such a project would take a significant amount of time that I’m not really able to give right now. However, the number of medical librar* blogs isn’t yet very great. While the massive number of medical blogs makes a weekly “best of” very useful, it isn’t hard to follow most of the existing medical librar* blogs. I did, however, want to create a better sense of community among medical librar* blogs. To this end, I founded the MedLib Blog masterlist and created the MedLib Blog Badge. It has been gratifying to see these widely embraced by medical librar* bloggers.

  • At last, what are your future plans with your blog?

I plan to keep writing it for as long as I continue to enjoy doing so. However, the frequency of my posts is going to dramatically decline soon as I start another geeky medical library endeavor that’ll take up a lot of my time.

Thank you, David,  for the kind answers and keep up this great work, inform the medical librarians about the new trends and tools of web 2.0.

Behind-the Scenes interviews so far:

Behind the Scenes of Medical Blogs: Six Until Me

This month, I’m going to present about a dozen of famous medical bloggers to you. My aim is to get my readers closer to these quality blogs and the bloggers as well. I’d like to convince more and more health professionals/people interested in medicine to create their own blogs by providing interesting “behind-the-scenes” interviews. The second blogger in this series is Kerri Morrone at Six Until Me who has been blogging about her fight with diabetes since 2005.

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Source

  • You’re the only patient blogger in this series, because no one could do it more professionally. Own design, own system. Do the other patients appreciate what you’ve done through your blog?

Producing the content for Six Until Me has been completely fun. Writing comes naturally to me. Designing and maintaining the website myself has been a bit more of a challenge. (Like when my blog ate it’s own archives and refused to allow me to access the blogging platform. I think I made up my own curse words that day.) Forcing my brain to think in terms of webdesign and coding is completely against my nature. If I could use crayons and draw directly on my computer screen, I would. :)

Other people living with diabetes have been wonderfully supportive of my efforts with Six Until Me. I started this blog because I felt I was the only diabetic for miles – blogging helped me connect with others and feel less alone with my disease. The impact on my health and my life in general has been tremendous. So when you ask, “Do other patients appreciate what you’ve done,” I can’t help but counter back with – “Do they know how much I appreciate them?”

  • How do you find information for your blog? You certainly read other blogs, journals but do you use RSS reader? How many blogs do you track?

I am the biggest blog-hopper in town. I built my blogroll so I could click like a little rabbit all over the blogosphere. I usually check about 20 – 30 diabetes-related sites a day but often find myself over in a completely random, non-diabetes related corner of the internet. I network through a collection of over 250 diabetes-specific sites, touching any given number of them on any day.

As far as information for my blog goes, I subscribe to several diabetes newswires for my job at dLife, so I have access to much of the latest in diabetes news. Most of my blog material, however, comes straight from my daily life with diabetes. When you are living with a disease like diabetes, which requires daily maintenance and vigilance, you can’t help but stumble upon plenty of life experience to blog about.

  • You maintain a Your Story section (web 2.0 rules!) where the readers can send you their stories. How often do you get a story? Do you have to moderate any?

I receive several Your Story segments a week – it’s truly an honor and a pleasure to be able to bring the experiences of other people onto my blog. I hear from the parents of kids with diabetes, people living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, people who have a loved one with diabetes, and even just those who have stumbled across the blog and are just plain curious. The range of voices is incredible.

As far as editing, I don’t edit the stories (unless there is a glaring typo or something that is intended for my eyes only) and instead give the writers complete storytelling freedom. It is their story, after all.

  • Do you know why some of the physicians are afraid of patient bloggers? Because they could write about or rate them. Do you write about your doctor?

The best part of being a blogger is that the only force editing me is me. :) Blogs, particularly patient-authored blogs, are some of the most honest accounts of health conditions on the internet. We are the faces of these diseases, the target markets for so many advertisers, and points of solace for people who are sharing our common bond. Write about a doctor? Sure. I’m honest, but fair.

  • You maintain a great Flickr photo collection, you tell you readers about your fights with diabetes. Aren’t you afraid of making your life totally public?

Ah, but that’s the tricky part – my life isn’t totally public. There are so many parts of my life that never even whisper close to Six Until Me. I share so many of my experiences with diabetes, but my whole life isn’t diabetes. Some bits of my life are just for me. :)

  • Do you get e-mails from companies working on diabetic tools/services?

I receive correspondence from several companies and focus groups working on diabetes-specific tools and services. I feel very lucky to have access to this burgeoning technology and I enjoy reviewing products, assisting design teams, and doing whatever I can to help soldier on towards a cure and contribute to a better life for people with diabetes.

As a patient with a chronic illness, I am responsible for much of my disease management. Sure, my doctors offer tools and medical tests, but the day-to-day management of diabetes remains my responsibility. From tesing my blood sugar several times a day to priming my insulin pump, the maintenance tasks of diabetes require a lot of my attention. Web 2.0 – specifically HealthWeb 2.0 – gives a web-savvy patient access to disease management tools that can make diabetes daily management a bit easier. And I’m all for anything that makes diabetes a bit easier to deal with. :)

  • At last, what are your future plans with your blog?

I started Six Until Me in May of 2005 because I was tired of Googling “diabetes” and coming up with little more than a list of complications and frightening stories. Where were all the people who were living with this disease, like I have been since I was a little girl? Was I the only diabetic out there who felt alone?

Blogging helped me find the others out there who were living with diabetes, just like me.

I’m excited to expand the blog to include more voices from the diabetes community, raising awareness and sharing their stories. Blogging, for me, is about connecting with other people, finding hope and inspiration within our own diabetes lives.

Thank you Kerri for being so kind and helpful during the interview. You’re one of, if not the best example for patient bloggers. Check out Six Until Me for more infos on diabetes!

Interviews so far:

Behind the Scenes of Medical Blogs: Over My Med Body!

As I promised, I’m going to present about a dozen of famous medical bloggers to you this month. My aim is to get my readers closer to these quality blogs and the bloggers as well. I’d like to convince more and more health professionals/people interested in medicine to create their own blogs by providing interesting “behind-the-scenes” interviews. I start my series with Graham Walker, a medical student and the blogger of Over My Med Body!.

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  • How do you find information for your blog? You certainly read other blogs, journals but do you use RSS reader? How many blogs do you track?

Oh boy. Yeah, I use bloglines–otherwise I’d have no way to keep up.

My main sources for my blog:
1) My own thoughts/issues/ideas that come up while in the process of seeing patients or discussing their care;
2) Discussions with classmates about being a doctor/caring for patients
3) Other medical blogs
4) The New York Times
5) Medical Journals and other magazines
6) Other blogs that happen to post health-related stories

I track probably about 20ish medical blogs, but then also read many, many more in other areas: web design/development, humor/weird internet stuff, news sites.

  • You’re a medical student just like me. I know how hard it is to find time to maintain your blog. How can you handle it?

It’s actually often therapeutic for me–releasing all the thoughts I’ve had built up for a while–often this is why I’ll go for a week or two without posting much, and then write a ton all at once. On busy rotations, I will often have a TON to post about but just not the time to do so–or I have so much reading to do and things to learn about that I don’t get to it, either.

  • You’re in your third year, so you surely know what kind of medical specialty you’re most interested in. Tell us please!

I’m actually in my 5th year (I need to update that about me page!) of med school. At Stanford we’re kind of weird in that most of us take an extra year to do research. So I’m in my final clinical year–and I’m going into Emergency Medicine. Currently preparing my residency application.

  • Why don’t you publish your name on your blog?

I’ve posted it on occasion–and it was printed in the US News article, so I’m not particularly anonymous. If you google my name, my site is usually the first or 2nd link–so it’s no secret where I am or who I am–it just takes a little more work, I guess.

Yeah, I put that together summer after my first year of medical school.

  • Do your fellow medstudents know about your blog? I’m often asked whether my professors like my blog. I always say I’m pretty sure they don’t even know about it. So do your professors appreciate the work you’ve done through your blog?

My classmates will read from time to time, and mention a particular post in passing. I’m sure an attending or two has seen my blog, but I don’t really know what they thought of it. The usual reaction is just a fairly passive, “Oh, interesting.”

  • In Second Life, in the Ann Myers Medical Center, a medical student can participate in training exercises, case presentations. Would you be interested to learn from physicians and with medical students from around the world? Do you think it can have an impact on the future of medical education?

I don’t know–I’m not as excited as others may be–I could see it perhaps being useful for clinicians around the world to communicate or interact, but I have so much learning and knowledge to acquire in the real world (and I personally acquire it much better with actual patients than with case presentations) that I wouldn’t be too interested. But for other students that don’t have as much access to quality teaching and education, I can see how it might be very useful!

  • At last, what are your future plans with your blog?

That’s a great question. Residency is going to suck, and be super time-consuming, so we’ll just have to see what happens. And I’ll officially be a hospital employee, instead of a medical student, so I’m not sure what my future residency director will think. For right now, I’m thinking that it may disappear, or at least go into hibernation–I may start focusing more of the site on my photography. Who knows.

Thank you, Graham, for the kind answers! Check out his blog for more!

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