5 Reasons to Integrate Podcasts into Your Hospital’s Social Media Plan

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I have a confession: I love podcasts. I would choose listening to a podcast over listening to music or watching TV any day. I enjoy them so much because they are interesting, provide me with new information, and I have to admit, I like being able to multitask while listening.

The podcasts I subscribe to have topics ranging from politics to world news to comedy to science to healthcare, and all are different but equally fascinating.

If you’re not sure what a podcast is, it’s an audio media file that is typically released on a regular basis and can be downloaded through an online subscription service, such as iTunes. They can be produced by anyone with a recording device and a little bit of technology know-how, including your hospital.

So is a podcast a good idea for your hospital? I’ve compiled five reasons so you can tell for yourself.

A podcast is an educational tool

Just like a blog, a podcast is an opportunity for your hospital to share current medical information or news to your patients, from prenatal to immunizations to surgery to joint replacement, there is always the opportunity to educate your patients. You can choose to dedicate your podcast to a specific department, always rotating who participates, or you can choose to open up your podcast to include general health care topics. Just be sure to keep in mind what your patients want.

A podcast is easy to produce

Unlike a video, a podcast is solely audio, and therefore easy to produce. You don’t need a fancy camera, just someone to interview, a recording device, a quiet room and someone who knows how to edit and upload it.

A podcast can be as short or as long as you want

The great thing about a podcast is that it doesn’t have to fit into a specific time frame. I subscribe to podcasts that range from 10 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the topic being covered. To determine how long yours should be, consider the goal you want to achieve, the topic you are covering, and your audience.

It’s convenient for your patients

I listen to podcasts on my daily walk, and whenever I am in the car, so I appreciate the ability to download podcasts directly to my iPhone. With a podcast you can take advantage of similar opportunities in your patients’ lives by making your podcast available for download. For example, you can provide a subscription to your podcast through iTunes, your hospital’s website, or even an app that your hospital has developed. It seems that we Americans are busier than ever, and convenience is key.

Anyone can participate

What I love about podcasts is the diversity of people and topics, and your hospital’s podcast can be the same. If you have a camera shy physician who you just can’t wait to interview about a new medical breakthrough or service at your hospital, a podcast may be a happy medium. You can even invite patients to join in on your podcast without taking too much of your time. The key is to determine who would provide an effective interview and let your imagination run wild!

I strongly encourage you to consider adding podcasts to your hospital’s social media strategy. To help you get started, I’ve compiled a list of podcasts you can check out, all of which are available for free on iTunes.

PediaCast by Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Johns Hopkins PodMed – Weekly Health News Podcast
ICU Rounds – Jeffrey S. Guy, MD

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4 replies
  1. Kelly Merrick
    Kelly Merrick says:

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for your comment and I’m happy to hear you liked my post. I agree completely – you can use fancy equipment but simple software can also do the job, as long as the content is useful and interesting.

    Reply
  2. Dave Thackeray
    Dave Thackeray says:

    Kelly this is a really, really useful article. I found a lot in it that I liked, and learned from.

    In a hospital environment – the very definition of a captive audience – you have so many chances to educate and entertain. Podcasts here are especially two-way if you build in a process for inpatients to have a say on the topics to be discussed and recorded.

    I think Aaron misses the point a little on ease of production. Genuinely, an iPod/iPhone to record into is effective enough to get started and be listened to. Record a few segments and patch together with intro and outro beds using a free audio editing package such as Audacity and you have yourself a simple – but captivating (content-dependent) – podcast that can really make a patient’s day.

    Of course I should be saying you need loads of equipment, since I’m a professional podcaster. But then I believe when you remove all the barriers that stop people from podcasting, the passion they have for the subject matter outweighs any audio issues – most of which are only discernible to the trained ear in any case.

    Reply
  3. Kelly Merrick
    Kelly Merrick says:

    Hi Aaron,
    Thanks for your comment, and I think you make a great point that I should have included. In order for a podcast to truly be social media, you need to have some form of two-way communication to back it up.

    As far as how easy a podcast is to produce, the examples I gave were definitely higher on the scale of difficulty and maybe not the best example of a podcast that a hospital without a lot of resources could produce, but I still think that a podcast can be simple to produce. You don’t have to have fancy equipment, the perfect voice or even music to produce a podcast that educates patients.

    That being said, it is always easier said than done!

    Reply
  4. Aaron Hughling
    Aaron Hughling says:

    How is a podcast social media? It’s a one-way tool, not two-way unless you actually have a social media tool behind it such as a blog. Right?

    How are they easy to produce? Unless, you don’t care about quality. If you care about real quality and want it professional sounding, then you will need dedicated professionals you know the art of the production of these things. You still have to buy all the equipment, have a talent or “voice” and then be able to do all the post-production of work including sound.

    These can work for some, depending on the audience of course. The examples you gave include some dedicated not to patients but also healthcare professionals, which is a totally different game.

    Just sayin, it’s not as simple as this post makes it out to be.

    Reply

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