The internet has no shortage of reputable, reliable sources of medical information. WebMD solicits content from physicians and medical researchers; it routinely features articles from medical specialists at the top of their professions. The Mayo Clinic’s website summarizes up-to-the-minute information from the physicians and caregivers who practice at the nation’s top-ranked hospital.
The internet does, however, suffer a critical shortage of health care blogs that look at medicine, fitness, and wellness from an ordinary person’s point of view. Many wellness blogs turn-out to be not-so-clever cover-ups for snake-oil sales; others turn-out to espouse nineteenth century quackery as “the new age of medicine.” Some health care blogs pile-up medical jargon so high and deep that not even doctors can read them. And some just insult their readers with proclamations like “sadness is a sign of depression.”
The internet needs a reliable source of medical information for ordinary readers; the internet needs a dependable health care blog that maintains high standards for reporting and shows respect for the readers. A good health care blog absolutely must be…
· Up-to-date and accurate- Modern medicine continues to evolve and advance, and it especially has become far more responsive to findings from “complementary” or “supplemental” medicine, more commonly known as naturopathy. Research into the human genome has changed scientists’ minds about the aetiology of some genetic diseases, and controversies rage in epidemiology-especially over causes of and treatments for autism. A reliable health blog regularly will discuss new findings and credible new studies; it also will not hesitate to discredit unreliable reports.
· Intelligent-A good health care blog must strike the balance between doctor-speak, which is a little to arcane and esoteric for its readers, and bonehead bullet points, which dummy-down complex subjects and trivialize serious medical issues. A truly valuable health care blog frequently will look at common medical problems “from the inside out,” detailing how people cope with or manage their chronic diseases.
· Open-minded and objective-Nothing so deeply offends readers as health care blogs that promote pseudo-science for the sake of selling products of questionable value. On the one hand, readers do not want to see a blog that advocates nothing but the medical establishment’s “settled science”; on the other hand, no one can trust citations of “emerging science.” An everyday health care blog will follow the canons of journalistic ethics, reporting the news objectively, factually, and in detail, relying on authoritative sources.
· Practical-Readers want news they can use. A skilled healthcare blog-writer will deal with subjects of interest to large, diverse audiences. Nearly seventy million Americans, for example, want to know how they safely can lose weight, prevent diabetes, and restore their cardio-vascular fitness. By contrast, very few readers need to know that modern psychiatry largely has discredited diagnoses of “multiple personalities.”
· Consistent-For most readers, consistency is the hallmark of integrity. Readers especially want to see the blogger asking and answering the most difficult questions about an issue or condition; and they want to see that the blogger is their representative and advocate in scientific discussions.