Yesterday, I participated in a panel discussion at the first Healthcare Blogging Summit, which was co-located with the larger Consumer Health World conference in Washington, DC. The summit was organized by Dmitriy Kruglyak, CEO of Trusted.MD, a social network formerly known as The Medical Blog Network (TMBN).

The main focus of the larger Consumer Health World conference was “consumer-directed healthcare” (CDH) and fellow-traveling disciplines such as wellness, spas, alternative medicine, etc. Many attendees were from the managed care industry and despite the hype of CDH as the “next new thing,” much of the movement towards CDH is happening within managed care organizations.

There is intense interest in CDH on the pharma side, and rightly so. Some of the seamy side of CDH involves alternative, holistic medicine, which means it’s anti-pharmaceutical. Yet, major CDH proponents are huge payers — health plans and employers — that pharma needs to court.

I have a feeling that as CDH programs are rolled out, more and more charlatans will come out of the woodwork to vie for consumers’ HSA funds and the money that plans will give them for “wellness” and other prevention programs as enticements.

Anyway, back to the Healthcare Blogging Summit. I hope Dmitriy invites me to the next summit, which is scheduled for April, 2007 at the Las Vegas Venetian Hotel! I think I can make a good case for getting an invite, especially after Fard Johnmar — another panel member and blogger over at Envisioning 2.0 –– voted me one of the three best healthcare bloggeres! (It’s good to be #3!)

Physician Blogging
at the start of the panel. Physicians comprised the largest segment of responders to the survey. “This is not surprising,” says With regard to healthcare blogging, Fard should know what he’s talking about. He and Dmitriy conducted a survey of over 200 healthcare bloggers, the results of which were summarized by FardFard, “physicians really started the healthcare blogosphere.”

Some other top-level results of the survey, which you can access here, are the following:

  • 47% of respondents spend between one and two hours a day maintaining their blogs.

I could see that a lot of Summit attendees — most of whom were healthcare administrators at health plans or healthcare systems plus 2 or 3 pharma people (one of whom described himself as a self-appointed blogging evangelist within his company) — were surprised by that statistic.

For physicians to spend that amount of time each day writing blogs is truly amazing.

Another key finding:

  • Respondents are split on whether running advertising negatively impacts a blogger’s credibility. However, 54% say they are willing to continue or begin featuring advertising on their blogs.

These statistics suggests that Dmitriy has hit upon a good business model by providing a social network focused on physicians. No doubt that he will be looking for pharmaceutical company sponsorships. Imagine having your brand in front of physicians one or two hours every day as they blog away! Talk about “stickiness!” Of course, pharmaceutical marketers will want to reach a massive number of physicians, but keep in mind that these physicians are likely to be thought leaders in the online social networking space. Whether or not they influence script writing remains to be seen. Just a thought.

But another healthcare blogging statistic may put a damper on pharmaceutical interest:

  • About 40% of those surveyed hide their identity while blogging in order to protect themselves from recriminations

Working with an anonymous physician audience will be a problem for pharmaceutical marketers unless they can get some good aggregate, de-identified data that helps them measure ROI. For example, if physician bloggers on a social networking site like Trusted.MD could be segmented by specialty, physician practice size, zip code, etc., that might help with the analytics. I am sure Dmitiry has thought of this.

To download a free copy of the survey report, please go to: