HealthMay 06, 2020

Why today’s healthcare workers love podcasts

Podcasts are quickly becoming one of the most popular educational resources for healthcare professionals across all specialties.

Podcasts appeal to everyone, from a four-year-old enjoying a bedtime story to a neurologist listening to Dr. Theodore H. Schwartz discuss the latest advances in minimally invasive brain tumor surgery. The range of available content is overwhelming, yet listeners can easily search and find a podcast on a subject that interests them.

Digital podcasts are a rapidly growing media. In the U.S., 62% of those age 12+ have listened to a podcast, up from 57% in 2021. There are almost 115,000 active podcasts with 104,154,717 monthly downloads.

The appeal in podcasts lies in their ability to deliver technical and industry-specific information in an engaging and convenient way, which makes them highly suitable for doctors and healthcare workers. Most medical journals, such as Anesthesiology and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, now produce their own health podcasts and audio briefs.

Podcasts serve the medical community’s need for speed and quality

Medicare pays healthcare providers (HCPs) using a fee-for-service system, which means HCPs are compensated for the quantity of care they provide, not its quality. The Affordable Care Act created financial subsidies for providers who could reduce costs, a measure aimed at incentivizing HCPs and institutions to shift away from a quantity-based model toward a value-based model. Providers responded by creating accountable care organizations (ACOs), which are voluntary groups of HCPs and hospitals who coordinate the care they give to their Medicare patients, usually those with chronic diseases and disorders.

Healthcare workers are a busy community. They are also well-informed. Nurses and doctors seek the most up-to-date and reliable information available, and they want to consume that information in a way that suits their lifestyles. That’s where podcasts excel. Podcasts offer the most cutting-edge opinions and practices in an accessible way. Listeners of podcasts can multitask while learning about a specific subject. Whether they’re walking the dog or driving to work, they are optimizing their time by listening to a podcast.

Kantar Media, a data insights and consulting company, conducted a survey focusing on the digital habits of healthcare professionals. Their 2019 Digital Insights survey found that 75% of healthcare professionals used their smartphones to listen to podcasts, which implies that they appreciate the convenience and speed of information delivery from digital podcasts. 44% used a computer to listen to a podcast, and 20% used a tablet.

Podcasts deliver cutting-edge educational information

Podcasts are often in the form of expert interviews, which means that listeners receive reliable information first-hand and are then free to draw their own conclusions. The most popular podcast publishers today are iHeartRadio and NPR. Both offer podcasts in the form of interviews, often with industry leaders who give their informed perspectives and opinions on in-depth subjects. Thus, the content is authentic, novel, and high quality.

Podcasts are a tool to help doctors in their patient interactions

Sara Berg, senior news writer for the AMA, observes that podcasts can help physicians manage tough conversations with patients, for example, in cases of chronic disease. Many podcasts discuss real patient and doctor experiences, describing the context and how the situation was handled. These podcasts offer analysis and solutions for the difficult daily conversations that must occur between healthcare professionals and patients.

Berg quotes Rajesh S. Mangrulkar, MD, associate dean for medical student education at the University of Michigan Medical School. Mangrulkar hosts the Podcast “AMA Doc Talk.” According to Mangrulkar, “There is no quick fix for chronic disease, but finding the right words to help a patient through this challenging and sometimes seemingly endless journey can help make the road smoother and even the outcomes better.”

Podcasts will continue to grow

The popularity of podcasts is clear, and there is still room to expand. Kantar’s 2019 Digital Insights survey showed that 36% of the healthcare professionals polled had listened to a podcast in the past 30 days. This finding implies that there’s an even bigger audience waiting to be tapped.

The statistics also imply that market space exists for additional podcasters to deliver their messages to healthcare professionals. So, whether you are looking to use podcasts to educate your healthcare industry audience or simply want to deliver a message in an effective, easily accessible way, podcasting is a proven channel that continues to expand its reach. Its usefulness is only just starting to be appreciated by many healthcare marketers.

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