Since then I’ve stumbled across several more healthcare blogs, including one called “Anonymous Doc,” written by a doctor who remains genderless and nameless in a nameless city and nameless hospital. The blog is a collection of anecdotes and stories about what this doctor encounters on his or her rotation.
When I read his or her posts, I can’t help but feel that the Anonymous Doctor blog is the type that causes healthcare professionals to be wary of physician blogs. While the author doesn’t reveal a real location or even real patient names, he or she does write about very personal details related to caring for patients, and if you happened to know anyone the Anonymous Doctor wrote about, you could probably identify the patients described.
As a funny coincidence, Dr. Brian Vartabedian wrote a blog today about physician anonymity in social media in his blog, 33 charts, and he wrote about it once before. In his blog post titled “Doctors Shouldn’t Be Socially Anonymous,” he lists six reasons why physicians should write using their true identity. I won’t repeat them all here, but I will say that I especially agree with his point that anonymity soils credibility.
Storytelling is an essential element to health care blogging because it personalizes content and it shows the compassionate side of the author. That’s one reason I enjoy reading Wendy Sue Swanson’s blog, Seattle Mama Doc, and am captivated by Kimberly Manning’s blog, Reflections of a Grady Doc. Both use personal experiences, family and work-related, to drive the content of their blog, which in turn creates useful, educational, compassionate and moving content that not only reflects positively on them as human beings, but also as physicians and ultimately, the hospital that employs them.
And with anonymity you just can’t have that.
I will say however, that what I do appreciate about the Anonymous Doctor blog is that his or her insights about patients are appropriate, important, and often profound. But when blogging anonymously, those insights become less effective because that doctor is not held accountable for what he or she says. When we are responsible for what we say, we are generally a lot more careful. I can’t help but feel that if this Anonymous Doc decided to take ownership of the blog that it would be an incredibly useful and effective tool instead of a platform on which to rant.
By nature, social media is about transparency and sharing. That’s why I encourage all hospitals to discuss the risks of anonymous blogging with physicians and to discourage it. Because when a blog is anonymous, it loses credibility, no matter how profound the content may be.
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