I have been reflecting on the recent discussion of physicians' reasons to blog or not blog: Medical Blogging: Debating a Devil's Advocate and thought of a recent article in Medical Economics.
Entitled "Doctors' lounge: A tradition slowly dies" it goes on to discuss the profound shifts in peer-to-peer interaction in the medical profession. The synopsis sets the tone "The decline of a venerable institution says a lot about the state of medicine" and has been reviewed from the historic perspective by the Retired Doc. Consider a quote:
A few years back, internist Eugene Ogrod was walking along the bridge that connected his office building to the hospital when he bumped into a surgeon to whom he regularly referred patients.
"We chatted and realized that we hadn't seen each other for more than three years," says Ogrod, who practiced at that time in Sacramento. "And our offices are in the same building."
There was a time when these two doctors probably would've crossed paths in the doctors' lounge of their hospital. But these days, all across America, sometimes the only people in this room are CNN newscasters on the overhead television set.
The quotes in the article and the comments on Retired Doc's blog show consensus that the institution is dying. But let us pause for a moment and think whether it is that bad and if there could be a better approach.
Doctor's Lounge discussed in the article is sponsored by local hospitals, that many docs have love-hate relationships with.
So why is it bad that the role of hospital in networking physicians diminishes? Why not find better ways to network?
Now enter the blogging and online communities. Consider the list of reasons why this could be the future of peer-to-peer interaction, which address the issues raised in the article and comments:
- Whenever: No need to plan the schedule to meet at the same time. Post a blog and/or comment whenever you like.
- Wherever: No need to be in the same place. The online world accessible anywhere: in the office, at home or on the road.
- Whoever: You know many of your local peers already. But you can also discover and make new connections online. GLOBALLY.
- Independence: Socializing outside of THE hospital opens up your network to docs with ties to competing institutions.
- Reputation: Online interactions (when public) DO accrue to making you a more trusted choice from patient's perspective.
The virtual world cannot and should not fully replace face-to-face interaction. But it can surely get the conversation going on a more regular basis, among many more people. Physicians and patients alike.
Physician blogs or forums are not ready to fully take over the intended role the lounge in the nearest time. But they have certainly advanced the communication and flow of ideas in the field. Witness the recent interviews in BMA News magazine that discuss different approaches to blogging taken by physicians around the world.
This new online media was not designed to play the same function. But what if we step back and think of what is missing to "make it so"?
What do we need to build the Doctors' Lounge 2.0?