The blogging revolution in healthcare

Several blogs ago I mentioned that my diary was mostly empty and I was enjoying it that way. My major professional engagements were successfully completed, and it was now time to review my strategy for the rest of the year.Emails and phone calls then came along, with some varied and exciting opportunities, which set my juices flowing, so I am back in the game!

I have chosen today’s subject, as a lot of the opportunities that are coming around for me,are linked in some way to my blog. Many more people are aware of what I do now, because of the power of the internet. It is such an effective method of communication. Anyone who wants to know my story, or what I am currently working on, just has to check it out via the blog. It saves me so much time, phoning or mailing people.It also means that people can do things when it is convenient to them.

My blog was started just over a year ago. I needed an internet platform for people to find me when my tv programme was broadcast. I didn’t know what to write or who my audience was. It was just a focal point for anyone who was interested.But today the picture is very different.There is now an audience, and demand for a certain style of content. The audience expects high quality and interesting content. All this for free!

Bloggers get wound up by lack of comments, but do we comment when we read a newspaper? There is plenty of area for thought, but generally we move on to the next unrelated article, having consumed that one.Also, more of us are reading from smart phones and tablets on the go, which is not conducive to writing comments, even if we are thinking them.

More than 5 years ago, when I started working to raise awareness, of the psychological and emotional issues of cancer, social media was in it’s infancy in the health sector.Facebook, was busy, with people’s holiday pics, but nothing much else, and Twitter was starting to be used by celebrities as a method of promoting their work. It appeared that blogging was for ‘would be’ authors, who wanted to dip their toe in the water, and test their work, with very little expense.

How things have changed in such a relatively short space of time! Obviously the subject of cancer is a niche market, but you would not think that. If you look around the internet thoroughly, you can find information on virtually anything. It seems like people are embracing the freedom that they find in social media.When I started writing, I felt that an open and honest blog was what was required to encourage people to think about their own issues differently.I now find so many people are opening up about their illness in such an intimate style, that at times I feel like a family member!

Reading other peoples stories is very powerful, and people can find a sense of release, when writing their own.The slightly unseen, and so far relatively untapped benefit, is when the professionals get involved. Patient blogs are a wonderful tool of understanding how cancer and it’s treatment, affects people in their lives, and I feel that many health professionals lack even a basic understanding of social media, and there is still a feeling that it is not valid in their work.

However there are clinicians and other professionals around the world who are fully engaged in social media. They blog, they tweet and run websites. Happy to share with the knowledgeable and the less so. It is quite obvious from what they write that they are all well informed, regarding patient blogs.These are such a rich vein of information, and much more interesting than books.Everyone has a unique way of communicating their experiences and emotions, and dealing with the highs and lows that occur during ill health.

I don’t think I can claim credit for the revolution in health blogging, but I am certainly proud to be a part of it. There is never a day goes past where I don’t read somebody’s blog.I feel I know those people so well even though in ‘real life’ we have never met.Social media generally, is a very powerful glue, binding like minds together, and helps forming strong bonds, enabling you to deal with difficult times slightly more easily.

In recent weeks I have been shocked by the demise of several members of my ‘community.’ Mostly, young people, taken by bowel cancer. #never2young Truly terrible. The thing I find so powerful is that all of them were so open and honest about their situation and shared a lot willingly, with everyone.This is a massive change to how things were with cancer even just 10 years ago, when people rarely dared to even mention the word.

It feels very perverse, to say that things have progressed when we now talk openly about death on social media. My view is that we can’t deal with something properly until we understand it, and by talking about things, hopefully we can learn more. There is a lot more to come from blogging, so watch this space!

I would like to dedicate this post to the brave young lady that is #katiescarborough Katie has just written, what may possibly be her final post entitled ‘a brick wall.‘ I have never read such an incredibly brave piece, and I remain in awe of this young lady and her family. My thoughts are with you all. This sums up the power that can be generated through a blog.

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