Today marks the fifth anniversary of this blog. Little did I realize when I offered my first post that it would evolve into a personal compulsion. Even less did I understand the power it would have as a leadership tool within my hospital and the impact it would have more generally in the health care field.
I started this blog because I had an interesting job (CEO of a hospital) in a fascinating field. Being new to the field myself, I thought that other people might like to have an insider’s view of what was going on in an academic medical center. The blog would also require me to think clearly about what I was learning so I could synthesize things for my readers.
What readers? At the beginning, there were a few, mainly the lawyers and press people in my hospital who had an underlying fear that I would say something illegal, inappropriate, or downright dumb. I knew they had nothing to fear on the first two points, but on the third, they had every right to be nervous!
I learned how to generate traffic for my blog. First, I sent an email to my 500 closest friends, letting them know about it and asking them to tell others. Second, I created linkages to other health care bloggers. Third, I tried to write something interesting so people would come back for a second visit.
The breakthrough moment, though, came when Boston Globe business reporter Chris Rowland wrote an article about the blog in his newspaper. Privately, he also told me that my posts were a bit boring and that I needed to spice things up a bit. From then on, it was off to the races, as you can see in this traffic report from the days right after his story. (In those days, I eagerly counted page loads in the hundreds rather than thousands!)
When I left my job at the hospital this past winter, quite a number of you wrote to me and expressed hope that I would maintain the blog. Because of you, I did so, and I have been pleasantly surprised to see that viewership has continued to grow. My topics have become less Boston-centric (except where Massachusetts offers broader lessons). Also, of course, I no longer present inside stories about my former hospital. I now consider myself an unabashed advocate for those causes mentioned in the masthead. In that capacity, I am more free to be even more direct than before (if that is possible!) about things that matter to patients and families, and also to doctors, nurses, and other people involved in the delivery of care.
I have found, too, that many of you are eager to join in by sending me story ideas from your regions -- events and concepts that you know are important to your constituencies and more broadly. I welcome those suggestions and promise to maintain your confidentiality as I rewrite them for the general audience.
The blog has also turned into a bit of a magazine over the years, with other topics of interest to me and, I hope, to you. You don’t have to stick with me very long to know of my passion for soccer, infrastructure, civil rights, effective government, good food, and nature. I hope that the articles on those topics provide a nice break for you, as they do for me. After all, you can’t talk about health care all the time!
It is traditional, on this kind of anniversary, to cite those blog posts that have generated the most interest, in terms of traffic and/or comments. I demur on that point. Each of you has your favorites -- and the ones you hated -- and it serves no purpose to give you my summary right now (although that may come in a future book on the value of social media for those in leadership positions.)
For now, I simply offer my thanks to you -- regular readers, occasional readers, newly arrived readers -- for allowing me the privilege to let this site provide useful, informative, or entertaining content in your lives.
And for my colleagues in arms, the other health care bloggers out there, a special thank-you for your friendship, collegiality, support, and good humor as we together try to transform the health care system into what we would want for members of our own families. There is a long way to go, but there is no more worthwhile endeavor.