Podcasting in healthcare – 2007 update

by Hans on 2007/08/30

As some of my readers might remember, I ran a series of posts on examining the potential role of podcasting in healthcare. At the time, I wasn’t too keen on podcasting in healthcare:

Recently, I came across a post titled “Will Podcasting Survive?” on a blog that I follow (Read/WriteWeb). In this article, the author, Alex Iskold, examines podcasting as the evolution of radio. Even though the technologies available to create and distribute podcasts are more widely available than ever, this medium of podcasts seems to have stagnated. He presents some data/graphs to highlight and support the idea that podcasting is stagnating. He gives four main reasons for this trend:

  1. Competition with video and blogs
  2. Limited applicability
  3. Monetization is a challenge
  4. Competition from big media

He concludes with:

It appears that podcasts are not picking up steam, and rather, podcasting is actually slowing down. There is not enough incentive for people to jump exclusively into podcasting because of tight competition from video, blogs, big media and a lack of clear monetization methods. However, it does not mean that podcasts are not here to stay.

Iskold’s conclusions seem to support my thoughts about podcasting in health care, albeit his conclusions are a bit more general in nature. Specifically, podcasts are “something you need to specifically listen to. They typically consist of a discussion you need to be able to focus on to follow”, making podcasts much like listening to a lecture. For some, it will be great, but for others (the vast majority, in my opinion), podcasts will not have much value, other than to be another resource that can be accessed.

Well, a year has passed, and I ran an update using Apple’s iTunes media software (v7.3.2.6) and was surprised at some of the results.

Table 1: Podcasts by topic using Apple’s iTunes on Aug. 30, 2007 (1200 EST) from Canada

Topic/ Keyword 2006 2007 Notes
health 105 150 Mostly health and fitness offerings and a few educational offerings. E-health Insider has a podcast.
medicine 105 150 Seems like a hodge-podge of podcasts focusing on specific conditions. From the descriptions, I get a sense that these are styled like “talk-shows” or something like the CNN offering “Your Health with Dr. Sanjay Gupta” (he has a podcast available from the CNN’s health page)
healthcare 84 141 A wide variety of topics covering improvement, education, self-help, and business. An interesting podcast by CDW talks about technology/IT management issues in healthcare.
doctor 105 150 Not really health focused, as the search returns anything using “doctor” in its name.
e-health/ehealth 1 6 Some very focused and interesting offerings including conference proceedings, e-health insider podcasts, an Australian industry publication podcast, and an individual podcast focusing on issues for Latin Americans.
telemedicine 1 3 Recordings from symposia.
telehealth 0 1 Weekly podcast from Canadian Society of Telehealth
informatics 5 139 Wow – what a surprise! I haven’t had a chance to go through everything, but there seems to be quite a range of podcasts here ranging from comedy, education, careers, and topical listings
cancer 105 147 A good variety of podcasts, mostly related to education and self-help with a few personal accounts of living with cancer. I was a bit surprised by the small increase in numbers, as I expected this section to grow much more than the other topics.
patient 105 150 Again, a wide variety of topics focusing on self-help, education, and general health.
cardiovascular 20 39 Some very focused topics.

I was very much surprised by the significant jump in informatics and the few new ehealth podcasts. I didn’t expect those numbers at all. My expectation was to see more health topics (i.e., health, ancer or cardiovascular), when in fact there wasn’t quite as many – granted 40–50% increases are significant.

Given Iskold’s comments about the slowing trend of podcasting and increasing video content, I wonder if video will supplant podcasting in healthcare. Granted, there may be considerably more podcast offerings on the Internet that are not hooked-up with Apple’s iTunes software.

In my own personal experience, I stopped listening to podcasts on a regular basis. I can’t say exactly why I stopped. All I know is that I didn’t find listening to podcasts to neither particularly enjoyable (even for purely entertainment podcasts) nor efficient. I was always irritated at the slow pace of the discussion, or irritated at the difficulty in jumping to the topic of interest. In the end, I decided to stop altogether.

{ 1 comment }

Sarah Fraser August 22, 2008 at 5:21 am

I wonder whether you’d like to do an update a year on from this?! In my experience podcasting in healthcare has been increasing in some novel and innovative ways.
http://www.training-pod.co.uk is a UK based healthcare organisation that used the technology to reduce training costs. I have found podcasting as a way to communicated messages effectively http://www.sfassociates.biz and I know many UK healthcare organisations are starting to use iut as a way of replacing newsletters. Short and sharp seems to be effective.
Not a huge take up but perhaps some use is still there.

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