Blogs authored by physicians are starting to attract more attention, particularly with regard to patient privacy issues (see: Doctor Blogs Raise Concerns About Patient Privacy). Below is an excerpt from this article with boldface emphasis mine:
[Physician-authored] blogs have raised concerns about privacy issues on the Web.....One physician blogger, who draws about 12,000 readers a day, is New Hampshire internist Dr. Kevin Pho. His blog, "Kevin, M.D.," offers a doctor's eye view on medical issues that appeal to both his peers and the public."...Blogging can be a great marketing tool for raising a physician's profile and attracting new patients, says [a healthcare consultant]. But not all physician blogs are geared toward marketing. In fact, just the opposite seems to be the case in some extremely candid blogs, like "White Coat Rants," "Cancer Doc" and "M.D.O.D.," which bills itself as "Random Thoughts from a Few Cantankerous American Physicians." These are more like diaries in which doctors vent about reimbursement rates, difficult cases and what a "bummer" it is to have so many patients die....Dr. Deborah Peel, a psychiatrist and founder of the group Patient Privacy Rights, thinks physician blogs often step too close to the limits of patient privacy."The problem with physicians blogging about patients is the danger that that person will be able to identify themselves, or that others that know them will be able to identify them," she says.
My own thoughts about physician bloggers are mixed. On the positive side, I think that they put a human face on physicians and the practice of medicine. They thus enable patients to better understand some of the complexities and pressures facing physicians on a daily basis. Clearly, none of the physician bloggers would ever name the patients whose cases they might reference in the blog. Nevertheless, a patient referred to even anonymously may be able to identify himself or herself. I personally would view this as a breach of confidentiality. I don't follow these physician blogs but the best strategy for them, I think, would be to refer to patients only in a veiled and abstract manner if at all. I will make it a point to follow Kevin M.D. more closely in the future. His numbers suggest that he has developed an enthusiastic groups of readers.