Back from Vacation … journalists, professional writing, HIPAA

Back from vacation.

Journalists & Medical writing & Blogging:

Dave Winer's post this morning brings up the differences between journalists and bloggers. Dave says that bloggers provide the reader with a better context, since they (we?) are transparent about our opinions – while the journalist attempts objectivity. Of course they can't be objective – so the reader always wonders about the hidden (or even subconscious?) agenda.  He's right. But in medicine there may be a difference.  My exposure to medical journalism last month was a bit of an eye-opener. A well-established medical publisher is working on a plan to develop a daily medical news product.  It's a bit like a weblog. Likely to be e-mailed and/or web-based. Likely to be very good, if the beta (?alpha) test that I was involved in is any indication.

I was impressed with how good writing conveys information much more clearly than bad writing. Not that medical bloggers are bad writers.  Some are very good indeed.  But many are not. 

I was impressed with how the journalists worked hard to understand what was important and what the readers needed to understand about the topic.   Physicians and writers worked together to pull out the important information .. then whittle it down and provide clarity and depth in a concise manner. 

I think that's too much work for bloggers — as we simply don't have enough time to work this hard at it.  Not that we couldn't do it .. but that the weblog posting is in addition to our day jobs, and to do this right … we'd compromise the attention we devote to our day jobs.

More tidbits today:

HIPAA Security is coming. Most covered entities must be in compliance with the final HIPAA Security Rule by April 21, 2005.   Educational materials from CMS … and … for the full text (great bedside reading!) here's a pdf of the full HIPAA Security Rule