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Friday, February 12, 2010

Blogging on Standards

In a few week I'll be at HIMSS and will be participating on in panel session of Healthcare bloggers.  One of the question's I'm often asked is how I manage to write this blog and do my day job.  I used to spend from 1-4 hours on a post, but these days, my average time is anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes.  Some posts still take longer depending upon how much research went into it and the amount time it takes to rewrite the post. 

Since my day job includes activities in HL7, IHE and HITSP, I often have to respond to questions on different issues in those organizations. When I can, I try to respond in a way that gives me a blog post as well. This cuts down drastically on the amount of time I spend writing, since I've usually already put together a response.

Rewriting the content sometimes is easy, and requires just a few changes, and other times is much harder.  I spent about 8 hours each on the basic content for Meaningful Use IFR Comments and Meaningful Use NPRM Comments.  Rewriting that content so I could use it for the IFR took another 4 hours and about 8 rewrites (you can probably imagine why).  The second required little change and was ready in about 10 minutes.

In addition to dealing with questions on standards, I can usually get a good post about new standards development about once a month based on one activity or another that I'm working on.

I'm always trolling for topics.  Sometimes I'll start an article and put it on the shelf for a week where I don't have much time to write.

News headlines that I get through Twitter and other lists are another source of inspiration.  When I see these and have something to say, I do so, and where possible, post the link to my response as a comment on the article.  That's not a great way to get huge numbers of new readers, but it does bring a few new readers to my blog from different sources.  It's always best to strike while the iron is hot on those.  Posting comments a few days or even a few hours after the post has been tweeted gets a much lower response rate.  How do I know?

I track the use of my blog through Google Analytics.  This is a free tool that lets you know a great deal of information about where your readers are coming from, what days they are reading, how often they read, and what topics they are reading on.

I use twitterfeed to automatically tweet my posts and that of a collegue to help drive traffic to my sight.

When I have a posting that is of interest to one or more of the various communities that I work with, I will often e-mail a link to the posting to the right list.  However, I do this sparingly, because I don't want to become known as a blog spammer.  I also try to make sure that the subject line of those e-mails tells the reader that it is a blog posting.  Many of us travel and have limited connectivity from time to time.  Downloading your e-mail and later finding out you need to be connected to the internet to read the post is frustrating (thanks to Ann W for that tip).


P.S.  This post took about 15 minutes to write.  I've been thinking about the topic since I was first asked to be on the Meet the Bloggers Panel at HIMSS, but I don't count that time...


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