When hospitalist Robert Wachter, MD, FHM, started his HM blog almost two years ago, he didn’t anticipate that one of his blog entries would be about pop-music icon Britney Spears. Or that it would become his most popular, attracting nearly double the number of readers as his next-most-popular post.
Dr. Wachter—professor and chief of the division of hospital medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, a former SHM president, and author of the blog “Wachter’s World” (www.wachtersworld.com)—attributes the popularity of that post partly to Spears, but also to the fact it touched on a topic that always sparks interest among hospitalists, other healthcare providers, and hospital executives: the relationship between doctors and nurses in a hospital setting. Dr. Wachter’s most-popular post used Spears’ hospitalization in early 2008 and the controversy surrounding care providers who sneaked a peek at her medical records to make a point about how physicians and nurses often are treated differently in a hospital setting.
—Robert Chang, MD, hospitalist, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor
But that was just one story. In the first year alone, Dr. Wachter wrote 76 blog posts, each of which easily exceeded 1,000 words. During the first year of blogging, the average post was read more than 1,800 times and the Web site attracted nearly 140,000 views.
“This has been one of the most gratifying things I’ve done in my career,” Dr. Wachter says. “I’ve published hundreds of articles in journals, but something about this form has an immediacy and connection to the audience that feels very important.”
And he isn’t alone. Blogs and HM have experienced similar growth trajectories in recent years. Now they are coming together to help hospitalists understand the most pressing issues in the specialty and provide the best care to hospitalized patients.
A Blog Primer
Blogs are Web sites that feature regular articles, or “posts.” The topic, length, and regularity of the posts are entirely at the discretion of the author, also known as the blogger. Some blogs are updated dozens of times a day; others, such as Wachter’s World, only feature new posts every week or so, but often with more depth and insight.
Although initially dismissed by many as outlets for trivial information, blogs are now recognized by experts in nearly every field as an important and cost-effective way to spark conversation and take positions on issues of the day.