Objectives: The objective of this study was to describe the features of health informatics blogs on the Internet.
Methods: A search was conducted in August, 2016 using the search engine, Google, and key words: ‘mobile health blog,’ ‘telehealth/telemedicine blog,’ ‘Electronic Health Record blog,’ ‘personalized health record blog,’ ‘population health decision support system blog,’ and ‘public/population health dashboard blog.’ The first 24 blogs resulting from each key word search were recorded, generating 144 blogs. A total of 109 unique blogs resulted after removing duplicates and non-functional sites.
Results: Blogs with ‘.com’ extensions were most prevalent (72%, n = 79). More than half of the blogs (79%, n = 86) were created by industries. Mobile health (88%, n = 96), telehealth (82%, n = 89), and health IT (78%, n = 85) were the predominant topics covered. Health providers (44%, n = 48), industries (33%, n = 36), patients/consumers (25%, n = 27) and payers/insurance providers (19%, n = 21) constituted the most common target audience. Blogs catering to payers commonly used ‘.org’ extension (n = 10 out of 21), compared to ‘.com’ (n = 7) or ‘.gov’ (n = 2) (p < 0.0001). Significant differences were also observed by topics covered health IT (p = 0.007), subscription (p = 0.048) and LinkedIn social media (p = 0.019) across the website extensions.
Conclusions: Further research is needed to examine the use of blogs as channels of communication of best evidence in health informatics research among diverse stakeholders. The role of blogs as policy informatics tools need to be evaluated in order for stakeholders to collaborate, coordinate and share opportunities and challenges of various public health programs and policies.