December 10, 2013
See how @ClosetoHomeMD reaches patients and their families through her blog and Twitter account.

Dr. Alice Ackerman was recruited to help lead the way in these efforts. Part of her responsibility is to help improve the health care of children in southwest Virginia and to raise awareness about providing care for children.

One way she’s doing this is through her blog and Twitter account; the former launched in September 2010. Her blog topics aren’t filled with medical jargon. Each one is personal. Check out “I looked at my grandson and started to cry.”

She’s the only physician at the health system who blogs. The PR department helped her get it started, and it promotes the blog on its Facebook page and Twitter account and through internal channels.

“The reason why I wanted to start a blog was to start a relationship with the community,” Ackerman says. “I started reading a lot of books about blogging, but from what I read, I learned that blogging alone isn’t going to get you anywhere. If I wanted to attract more readers, I needed another channel.”

So, in May 2011 she turned to Twitter.

“I read this book called the Tao of Twitter, and it suggested a 20-minute regimen for social media,” Ackerman says. “That’s how I started to get more involved on it.”

Here are a few sample tweets:

Every day, 19,000 children die from preventable causes. You can help change that. via @Trapit

Southwest Virginia flu cases spreading fast via @Trapit

Sun coming up over the blue ridge as I head in for pediatric grand rounds. #ccch

She says her main reason for being on social media is to build trust with the community. She blogs about once a week and tweets about three times a day, even though she’s still the only doctor in her health system that is using social media.

“There’s a lot of fear out there,” Ackerman says. “When you talk to groups of physicians, I think they’re fearful of doing the wrong things, but the rules are fairly simple: You just don’t want to give any kind of specific advice to patients.”


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