Information overload. Content shock. Whatever you want to call it, it comes down to the idea that people are overwhelmed with the amount of content available to consume. With shiny things everywhere how do you know where to focus?
It weighs us down with decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue is the reason people waste unreasonable amounts of time on Facebook quizzes and cat pictures on the internet. Faced with the choice of sifting through hundreds of articles on a topic of interest we become fatigued. We just quit trying to decide what information to consume.
This “shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing. Instead of agonizing over decisions, avoid any choice.”
This is Good News (with capital letters) for the medical practice blogger. Why? Because good medical bloggers already have a solution to the decision fatigue problem. That solution is medical content curation.
When you write about medicine you have three choices:
- write about the research you have conducted,
- write about things that have no evidence to support them (ie, sell snake oil).
- write about research other people have conducted.
So, let’s assume you run a typical medical practice taking care of patients day in and day out. You are probably not doing a ton of original research with time limited to 24 hours in a day and all. So number one is out. Plus, you aren’t going to peddle any miracle cures, since you’ve dedicated your life to offering real help, not false hope. Scratch number two off the list.
That leaves number three, writing about other medical research (or lack of it.) That makes you a content curator, and we need a lot more of it in the medical world.
Curation, noun: The act of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts.
You see, nowhere is information overload more of a problem than it is in health related topics. Think measles immunizations. Think ebola quarantine. Think diets of every kind. There is so much information and misinformation out there, and most people have only anecdotal evidence to anchor that information.
When you are a content curator, you are the source patients and potential patients use to get the real skinny on important medical topics.
You make it easy for patients to find good, evidence-based commentary on the things they hear in the news, in their mommy group, or from Dr. Google.
Best of all, you extend the time you have with your patients for patient education. Instead of ten minutes twice a year, your patients have 24/7 access to you and your thoughts about current medical topics. This solidifies your patients’ view of you. And it helps build an educated patient population prepared to take part in their own care.
What Does Good Medical Content Curation Look Like?
It addresses topics patients see in the news.
The media has fine-tuned their ability to ferret out our neuroses and use them to their advantage. In other words, they write about what sells. Don’t miss out on the opportunity that creates to capture the attention of your patients.
It addresses topics patients need to know about but the news isn’t reporting.
If new research comes out about aspirin therapy for heart disease or a new colon screening protocol, your patients should know about it even if the news isn’t reporting it. Incorporate that information into your curation.
It provides an evidence-based evaluation of the topics.
The recent measles outbreak is a great example. You can share the actual evidence about the disease and the immunization. You can point out where there is a lack of evidence for claims being made. This is information your patients need to hear from you.
It provides commentary.
Patients don’t need you to just mention a news item and then quote the conclusion statement from a journal abstract to confirm or refute the news story. They want you to explain what it means to them. In plain English.
Today your quick task is to collect three or four health-related news stories that you can address in a curated blog post. Go to Google News and click on “health” in the left sidebar to see the headlines. Bookmark the topics you want to write about in a curated post.
Now go to Google Scholar and search for those topics to find related research. Bookmark those.
Tomorrow you can come back and write a draft of your curated blog post using those sources.
As you go about your week, you’ll see news items and medical research that you think would be good to curate. I’ll address tools you can use to save these items in a later blog post, but in the meantime, make good use of your browser’s bookmarking ability. Before you know it you’ll have more material than you need to become the go-to source for your patients when they have health questions. That’s a win for everyone.