AMA President Dives into Blogosphere

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , August 25, 2009

J. James Rohack, MD, is the 164th president of the American Medical Association, but he is the first one to have his own blog.

"It won't be like, 'Today, I woke up and had oatmeal,'" jokes the senior staff cardiologist at Scott & White Clinic in Temple, TX. Rather, since his job entails spending 200 days a year traveling and hearing voices from the House of Medicine expressing concern about how the system does and doesn't work, he decided it is important to share what he hears with those who care.

And this social media venue seemed worth a try. "It's something we [at the AMA] have been talking about for awhile. Of course, each president has a different comfort level with e-mail.  What we wanted was something that would allow a different form of communication."

This year, perhaps more than any other, the AMA is at the center of the health reform debate and those voices, their questions, and concerns are important to convey, he says.

Rohack calls his column "On the Road with Dr. Rohack."

His introductory post came out yesterday, accompanied by a "Virtual Town Hall," a Webcast of voices from the physician community attempting to dispel concerns and myths the public and other physicians have about the impact universal coverage, which the AMA supports.

His second post later this week will focus on "reflective comments about how one communicates in multiple ways without being perceived as overbearing...and at what point does that become overkill." He didn't elaborate, but presumably he's referring to some physicians' concerns that the president is pushing a bit too hard.

"Certainly the president has had some continued exposure with his outreach," Rohack says.

Another planned column will deal with an upcoming physician call-in conference with the White House on issues of concern to doctors. Whether President Obama will be there to answer questions in person is unclear, he says.

Rohack's blog joins a rapidly expanding community of blogging doctors who post and tweet on anything medical from drug-drug interactions to electronic medical record feasibility to questionable patient imaging scans to reviews of the latest hand-held apps.

"With Dr. Rohack starting his own blog, the American Medical Association is further expanding their social media reach, which also includes a presence on Facebook and Twitter," says Kevin Pho, MD, who blogs as

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