Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bridging the Divide Between Policy Blogging and... what are they called... Oh Yes, Patients.

Why Blog?

The Disease Management Care Blog’s spouse has asked that several times. In a prior post, it described a recent Kaiser Family Foundation webcast confab on the increasing role of blogs in the formulation of health policy and the DMCB learned its motivations are not unique. First off, it’s an enjoyable way of building a circle of like-minded colleagues. Second, if you’re going to read about developments in your field of interest, writing about them sharpens focus and makes for more disciplined reading – and learning. For physician readers, think of it as a virtual and solo version of ‘Journal Club.’ Alas, for bloggers with spouses, think of it as ‘not impressed.’

The DMCB thinks of itself as a ‘policy’ blog and a small one at that. Heck, while it may think ‘disease management’ is a big topic, it’s a pipsqueak compared to Health 2.0, health insurance or pharma. Unlike the political or celebrity blogs, it doesn’t ‘break’ news, but aggregates and interprets it. Unlike many of the health policy blogs, it tries make liberal use of links to the peer reviewed evidence-based literature. It reluctantly confesses to paying attention to other health policy blogs but avoids the temptation of writing to capture their attention or to engage them in a web traffic-increasing game of point-counterpoint. It would much rather get email or comments, which are really appreciated (hint).

The DMCB reluctantly accepts Google ad revenue because it thinks any conflict of interest is small and that the Google search engines favor blog sites that accept its ads; to date the revenue for that single rotating ad on the right has resulted in $5.19. The DMCB does not participate in product promotion or marketing. For other blogs, ads and promos are big business.

The DMCB shares in the policy blogs’ greatest weakness: a broad disconnect from the persons we claim to know so much about: the patients. And, by the way, patients are also creating diary-blogs that frequently spill into telling observations about the health care system in ways that may be missed by us policy know-it-alls.

Case in point: check out how a parent at the X-Dad site has to process an evolving and complicated insurance and pharmacy benefit for a son with a rare genetic disorder (‘the good, the bad and the drooly’). The premium is high but still comparatively worth it, the new health savings account (HSA) may or may not cover medically necessary services and drugs can go from covered n’ cheap bulk mail-ordered to not so covered n’ pricy-monthly.

We on this side of the blogsphere, including readers, need to remember that health policy, medical technology and benefit changes that supposedly take advantage of the supposedly most modern advances in cost and quality result in real life challenges for real people. Thanks to X-Dad, the DMCB is reminded that the patients’ (and parents’) points of view are the ones that are ultimately the most important.

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