Monday, October 15, 2007

Medical Device Blogging: J n' J by the way, is down wit bloggin' & other emerging paradigms....

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If you have paid any attention to the blogosphere at all, there are only a handful of medical device professionals blogging. I don't blog exclusively on medical devices, so I may not count. However here is my micro-analysis on this issue...

There are probably four categories of blogs on medical devices:

1. Blogs by medical device professionals - designers, engineers (R&D, manufacturing, quality), consultants, regulatory professionals, marketing professionals etc. This also includes physicians blogging with a focus on medical devices.

2. Blogs by medical device publications, newsletters, magazines etc.

3. Blogs by medical device companies, company leaders and company-sanctioned blogs

4. Blogs by investors and investment trackers on medical device companies.

We have discussed category 1 before. Mine may qualify as one. http://meddevice.blogspot.com/ is definitely another. This and some of the blogs by professionals are of quite high quality.

Now, to category 2.

Most of the blogs so far that have come outside the realm of individual professionals have come from magazines and other publication sources. To be honest, though I even list many of them, I don't think they are truly "blogs". Many of these are what I call "creative paraphrisations" of articles and press releases.

These blogs tend to walk clear of any controversy, the bloggers and companies not wanting to piss off current and future supporters I guess. Not a bad idea, if you want to stay in business...

My take on blogging - or web blogging is completely different. Armed with the duality of the 1st amendment and the expressive freedom donated by the internet, it should be a venue for people to express their opinions freely, especially when companies do things wrong. Respectfully pointing out these mistakes should not be a problem.

However, with television, in blogging too, I have noticed it is the controversial ones that become famous. That may not be all too bad if these controversy creators are responsible and are not doing it just to gain more hits.

Whatever be the case, I would not categorize blogs of group 2 as very valuable unless they tend to offer an opinion, a critique, an analysis or some other tool or output that professionals, observers and investors can use or discuss.

As to category 3, J&J's attempt seems to be the first of it kind from a large medical device company, definitely not the first of its kind in medical devices. There are probably a few blogs by smaller companies - I don't know yet.

The blog seems tame enough and even the blog roll is well, "whitewashed". And the comment policy seems to come from a scared PR department...

This will be a good observation opportunity for blogs in this category. Will it just be lip service to the company's PR line? Or will it be more frank and open? Will it do anything to create a pathway for other companies to follow? Or will it just disappear in ether?

Category 4 is from investors, investment analysts and VCs, etc. These blogs provide valuable information on how Wall Street views the field from outside - something that does get lost in the noise. With all the "bigwigs"-to-be of the industry doing really bad - in the stock market, with the FDA and elsewhere; and oodles of companies getting funded, these blogs should provide some interesting perspectives.

I dont know if there is a category 5, but there are blogs by individuals, groups, foundations, companies, individuals suffering or surviving special diseases etc. These blogs provide a pivotal support role on the perspective or the more hackneyed "big picture".

In my opinion categories 1 and probably 5 provide the most value for professionals to use in the future. Category 2 needs a lot of work. Categories 3 and 4 provide us all with the most entertainment and for us emerging "device geeks", new stories to throw out in our discussions...

So, blogging is growing in our field. Let us see where it takes us. Wonder who will be the first to get fired for "blogging"? I hope its not me ... lol!

In my opinion medical device professionals should blog more. This will help standardize issues and opinions across the board. After all, we are the least organized and recognized professionals across several engineering and scientific fields.

I think blogging has been a primary driver especially for industries such as IT. That has yet to catch up here. Let us wait and watch....

I do have one problem with J&J's blog: "Why am I not on your blogroll?" :p




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