Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE is the Seattle Mama Doc™ and blogs for Seattle Children’s Hospital. She also happens to be their Executive Director of Digital Health. Oh, and there’s this little TEDx talk she gave that you should probably watch. Blogging Bona fides, y’all.
The post that caught my eye was her recent blog about lice, School is Out, Head Lice May Still Be Around.
Why a Blog About Lice is a Winning Topic
The first thing I love about this blog post is the topic itself. Lice infestation is not only a common problem, it tends to make people panic out of proportion to the threat when it happens in their house.
A common sense blog about lice for patients to refer to is great because:
- This a topic that people are always googling – they want this information!
- Patients can get the info on this simple but unpleasant problem without a phone call or office visit. That’s time the doctor can spend answering more difficult questions or caring for patients with complicated issues.
- It’s timely. Since the AAP just published new guidelines with regard to lice, it’s a good time to update patients and demonstrate authority on the most current medical thinking.
I may or may not also like this topic because of personal experience.
Why the Angle Works
Dr. Swanson approaches the topic from the perspective that lice outbreaks are not confined to the school year. It’s a great way to take an evergreen topic and add a connection for the moment. This means regular readers who read the article near its publication will feel like they are getting useful information for today. It also means that someone who is doing a google search in November will benefit from the evergreen content. Very smart.
How Dr. Swanson Uses Voice in This Article
Dr. Swanson uses a conversational “I’m a mom who has to deal with this stuff, too” voice. This is a powerful approach, particularly for a pediatrician, but even more so with a topic like lice. People are embarrassed and don’t want anyone to know if their child has had lice. The stigma needs to change and her conversational tone helps do just that. After I read the article I felt like, “Man, lice are a nuisance, but no big deal in the long run.”
After Dr. Swanson sets the reader at ease with the idea of lice she offers the meat of the post to help readers deal with the issue. First, she reminds that there are plenty of summer activities that make it easy for lice to crawl from head to head. Then she jumps into the AAP recommendations, treatment considerations, and what parents really need to know. It’s packed full of useful, accurate information that will not only help parents deal with lice, but will set them at ease about the problem.
Two things Dr. Swanson did in this article made me extra happy.
First, one of the images is of a Post-it Note handwritten with instructions on how to deal with lice. What mom out there hasn’t googled something like lice treatment, jotted the instructions on a sticky note and then stuck it on the fridge? Inspired use of an image.
Second, Dr. Swanson shared a link to her own lice story. This is another great post itself, but it really helps drive home the point that lice are nothing to be ashamed of. I mean if a pediatrician’s kids get them, it can’t be that bad, right? And the link to another post on her blog let’s both patients and Google get to know her a little better.
Things That Could be Improved
There isn’t much I’d change about this article. But I have three suggestions that would, in my opinion put it right over the top.
First, I would like the brilliant image of the Post-it Note to be larger. At this size it’s hard to make out the handwriting.
Second, I would break up the initial paragraph into a couple of smaller ones. Many readers are put off by long blocks of text. Dr. Swanson does a good job of using subheads and bullets which make the text scannable, but shorter paragraphs would help. I like to keeping paragraphs in the three-five line range, with an occasional longer or shorter one thrown in. Here is a great guide for formatting blog posts written by the smart folks over at Copyblogger for a little more detail on the subject.
My third suggestion is a little harder to manage, because it may be a site-wide setting that Dr. Swanson doesn’t control. But if I could, I would make the font a bit larger and increase the white space. It would help prevent eye-fatigue, particularly for someone who is reading multiple articles on the site.
So, thanks so much to Dr. Swanson for her great blog post. If you want to learn more about how a doctor is using blogging as a tool to improve communication with her patients, I recommend you check out her site. She’s doing the right way.
Now I will spend the next two hours scratching the phantom bugs on my head.
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Photo Credit: © Sascha Burkard/ Dollar Photo Club