Mar 25

Early Adopters of Podcasting among Hospitals

With the exception of a few early adopters, hospitals have been slow to embrace podcasting as a communication vehicle. Some of the early adopters among hospitals include:

Medical Edge Radio from Mayo Clinic (iTunes link)
These 60-second audio segments cover a wide range of health topics. Narrated in a journalistic fashion, they feature actual quotes from Mayo doctors or patients as well as a closing reference to mayoclinic.org for more information or sometimes physician referral.

Oklahoma Medical Center (iTunes link)
These 90-second audio spots feature narrated news reports on research, technologies, and medical tips from OU Medical Center. The spots end with a second voiceover providing the web site address and call center number.

Clarian Health’s Best of Health (iTunes link)
These four-minute video segments are repurposed from Sunday morning broadcasts on TV station WTHR. They feature Clarian-affiliated physicians, nurses and service line staffers discussing services at Methodist Hospital, Indiana University Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children. The segments start with a commercial-like lead in while the selected quotes in the spots are interspersed with title slides. The segments end with the system URL and call center number, as well as an actual Clarian commercial.

Honorable Mention
“Honorable mention” goes to a few other organizations that are trying podcasting, although they are not fully engaged or fully functioning quite yet:

Guthrie Joint Camp HealthCast (iTunes link)
Guthrie is a hospital system using their podcast to focus on their joint replacement services. This singular focus could have more impact from a marketing perspective than other “variety” approaches. Only one five-minute introduction to Guthrie’s Joint Camp is currently posted.

Moving Medicine Forward from Robert Woods Johnson University Hospital (iTunes link)
These online audio programs are billed as focusing on the latest medical issues and treatments affecting New Jersey. The iTunes page features album art of the building, but the audio quality is low and only two programs (each 7 to 9 minutes long) are currently available online.

Lifebridge Health (iTunes link)
This Baltimore area provider has two, undated programs are available online (each available in either audio or video formats). Unfortunately, the iTunes page doesn’t describe the podcast focus and the web link only links to Lifebridge’s home page.

Cleveland Clinic Health Edge (iTunes link)
Cleveland’s offerings include 16 two-minute video segments on a variety of topics, but we were not able to view any of the programs because of a repeated error stating that “The URL could not be found on the server.” Cleveland’s iTunes page currently lacks album art and links only to Cleveland’s home page.

Also of Note
Other hospital-related or health-focused podcasts of note include:

Arizona Heart Institute & Hospital’s CVMD.org, (iTunes link) which attempts to serve both professionals and public with highly technical cardiovascular segments involving physicians.

Health Matters produced by Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center (iTunes link) is an hour-long program repurposed from a broadcast on Moorehead State Public Radio. The program helps listeners improve their understanding of their health status as well as inform them of research and policy issues concerning healthcare.

WCVB TV Channel 5 Boston’s HealthBeat Podcast (iTunes link) is an audio version of segments by developed by health reporters providing information to help listeners live a healthier and more enjoyable life.


Most hospital podcasts are currently following a “news/variety” approach. This has merit for image building, and if it involves repurposing of existing content developed for radio or television, it may also be a good use of resources to reach a broader audience. However, by definition, podcasting is narrowcasting, meaning that approaches like Guthrie’s singular focus on orthopedics has more potential for business impact.

On the technical side, Mayo’s podcasts make effective use of the medium through actual quotes from physician or staff, rather than hearing quotes read by the narrator. Furthermore, many of the Mayo episodes have effective calls to action, driving business to the web site or call center. This approach makes an engaging listening experience. Within iTunes there are also technical issues. Many hospital and other podcasts still suffer from special characters or missing data elements within their listings. This shows a need for understanding how to handle these meta data details.

Most hospitals have made good efforts to clearly brand their podcasts, although “backend” details are often lacking. For example, several iTune pages link back only to the hospital’s home page instead of one dedicated to the podcast. Of those with dedicated pages, many lacked additional information about the podcast’s focus, a clearly labeled RSS feed, or other details that would help give confidence to a listener exploring the value of subscribing.

While hospital podcasting efforts are clearly nascent, we’ll be primarily watching industry journals for examples of how hospitals are actually driving listeners to their podcasts to create a truly integrated marketing communication effort. It’s this “full cycle” approach that will eventually bring effectiveness to hospital efforts in the realm of podcasting.

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