Two doctors from Michigan started a health podcast that will soon be available on Spotify.
A little over a month ago, two doctors from Beaumont, Michigan, started a health podcast called Beaumont HouseCall. The hosts, infectionist disease expert Nick Gilpinan and family medicine physician Asha Shajahan, discuss popular health topics ranging from common infectious diseases to sports medicine and even the loneliness epidemic.
Beaumont HouseCall is already available on podcast apps such as iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play and, soon, Spotify.
Their podcast is part of a fast-emerging trend in healthcare: doctors trying to gain notoriety within their communities and reach new audiences using new communication channels.
In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of social media celebrity doctors. One example is Dr. Mike Varshavski. Millions follow his YouTube channel and Instagram account looking for easy-to-digest health advice. Another one is dermatologist Sandra Lee, also known as Dr. Pimple Popper. She became a public figure thanks to her videos of popping pimples and extracting blackheads.
For health professionals not looking to attract such attention, the key takeaway is this: Technology is changing how doctors and patients interact. And it’s nudging doctors to embrace new roles beyond that of a traditional physician.
We know that white coat hypertension — when the anxiety caused by a visit to the doctor is enough to raise your blood pressure to a clinically significant level — is a real issue that prevents many from seeking medical help. Health companies could easily win over these potential patients by thinking outside the box.
Enter podcasts, a new channel many executives are still not leveraging enough.
Recent statistics show that one in eight Americans listen to at least one podcast each week. Health and wellness podcasts are in particularly high demand. National Public Radio (NPR), as an example, offers 10 different kinds.
It’s worth noting that not all doctors make great podcast hosts. Executives will have to find those physicians who are not only knowledgeable, but also charismatic and willing to show their human side.
In the episode about sports injuries, for example, Gilpin shares his first experience with indoor soccer, when he injured his ankle. A seasoned physician, he admits he was clueless on what to do next: “Should I go to the hospital? Should I go to the ER? Should I ice it and just wait it out for a few days? Will I need surgery? All these things started flooding through my brain.”
But as with any new marketing strategy, there is an initial investment.
The Beaumont physicians, for instance, have an entire team behind them, including a producer, a digital expert and a photographer. And they obviously did their homework before launching. Each episode lasts anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, which is the ideal length to keep listeners engaged.
But the payoff is well-worth it, as podcasts can bring:
- More exposure, translating into new clientele
- Interaction with doctors and experts from across the system, leading to more innovation
- Valuable feedback from listeners, which can drive new initiatives and help course correct
- A valuable platform for physicians to share their expertise
As patients become more tech-savvy, the old marketing strategies in healthcare are not going to cut it anymore. The challenge will be to let go of the medical jargon and deliver health advice in an entertaining, friendly manner that would make listeners not only tune in again, but also tell their friends about it and, eventually, become patients.