Sunday, November 4, 2007

Life in the blogosphere

Last June 30, I converted the weekly CGH family letter into the More than Medicine blog. [1] For a number of months the content of the family letters continued to reflect the content of the blog, but gradually the blog postings have begun to diverge from the letters.

The blog now includes items that do not make it into my letters. These may be some quick thoughts, they may be references to contemporary events (such as the legal prosecution of health care people following Hurricane Katrina), or they may be comments on news articles (such as the Berger Commission or hospital infection risk) or references to other blogs that comment on More than Medicine.

A comparison of the last week’s activity – letter versus blog – shows I wrote two letters (one on flu, the other on the blogosphere) compared with eight postings on this blog (ranging from "medical arrogance" or "all fish swim in the same water").

The content of the blog and the letters are related – but they are hardly identical. This is interesting, and it is not what I expected. I expected the blog to be little more than an electronic version of the letter. As it turns out, the nature of blogging encourages shorter, more frequent, and more topical entries.

Blogging also invites more interaction. I’ve had 19 comments on blog postings since June – hardly an overwhelming number, but more frequent feedback than I had with the letters alone. And not all comments are from CGH employees. Some are from readers, known and unknown, in the blogosphere.

Unlike the family letter, anyone can subscribe to the blog. The blog also allows me to track the number of times people look at it each week. After Paul Levy, the hospital CEO who authors Running a Hospital, linked a past entry from More than Medicine to his blog last Tuesday, I had 128 “hits,” a new high for me.

Another blog advantage: each posting is accompanied by “key words” so you (and I) can look up every time I’ve discussed a topic, such as “Berger Commission” or “mortality rates.”

I am, of course, continuing my weekly letters at Community General Hospital, as I have since writing the first one on October 19, 2002 (about three weeks after the Board of Directors asked me to serve as CEO). But the letters are not the same as the more frequent, more interactive communications through the blog.

When I started blogging, I thought I was merely expanding the letter content with an new means of electronic distribution – what I actually did was to learn an entirely different communications tool.

Don’t hesitate to write and tell me what you think!

[1] You will notice a number of blog postings with dates earlier than June 30, 2007. That is because, as I have occasion to refer to past family letters, I covert them to blog postings with their original dates. This process gradually populates More than Medicine with the content of past letters and allows me to link similar topics.

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