Podcast – The Audio That Is Reaching Out

Patient and caregiver podcast – they’re reaching out 

In the age of video blogs (Vlogs) and webcasting, it might be tempting to overlook the humble audio podcast. Actually, as patient communities worldwide continue to demonstrate, it has a number of key advantages.

For example, in comparison with video, audio podcasts can be:

  • Cheaper, easier and faster to produce
  • Use less bandwidth for group’s servers, and for patients downloading
  • Much more intimate and direct, with the listener focused on the contributor’s voices
  • Easier for the listener to use while they do other things, for example when driving.

If there’s one thing that cuts across most conditions, it’s that being a patient means a lot of travel and waiting around. Bite-sized podcasts are ideal for reaching patients in snatched moments.

So, how are patients and carers producing and using podcasts?

Weekly podcast: Realtalk MS

Even the biggest patient organisations would feel daunted about producing a weekly podcast. In the US, each week Jon Straum produces a multiple sclerosis news magazine programme, and it has quickly become part of the MS community. For example, the not-for profit Accelerated Cure Project includes a prominent link to the latest podcast.

Jon is both an MS caregiver, as his wife has MS, and an MS activist through the advocacy organisation the US National MS Society. He has a relaxed engaging broadcast style, and includes insightful interviews with experts, as well as the latest news about MS research. 

As well as links from MS community site, the podcast is made available in a number of ways, including:

  • Google podcasts
  • Apple podcasts
  • A dedicated website, www.realtalkms.com
  • An app, available for apple and android devices.
Print magazine podcast: Alzheimer’s Society

Younger generations of journalists are trained in multimedia. For patient groups, this ability can open up lots of opportunity to repurpose content in different ways. The Alzheimer’s Society in the UK is a good example of this.

They produce a bi-monthly magazine for patients called Dementia Together, which is available in print, and is downloadable. In parallel with each magazine, the organisation creates a podcast. In some cases, when the magazine team is carrying out a face-to-face interview for the print magazine, they record the interview for the podcast. It’s not only a good use of resources, but also brings to life an interview summarised in print.

Capturing workshop events in podcasts: Vulval Pain Society

Patient groups are getting much more experienced at recording and reusing content from their events, meetings and conferences. Even small organisations can do this very effectively. 

For example, the volunteer-based charity the Vulval Pain Society in the UK has recorded a range of workshop presentations, interviews and events and edited these as podcasts.

The podcast library’s content ranges from:

  • Patient and partner stories and experiences
  • Presentations from specialists
  • Treatment options
  • Interviews with expert contributors. 
Podcasts for special events: Sarcoma UK

Some patient groups use podcasts as part of their `media mix’ when running special events.  For example, Sarcoma UK supported their Sarcoma Awareness week by producing short daily podcasts.

These took listeners on the patient journey, including:

  • How the group’s support line can help
  • The role of sarcoma clinical nurse specialists
  • How sarcoma is diagnosed
  • How sarcoma is treated
  • Follow-up after treatment.

These podcasts act as a long-lasting legacy from the awareness week.

Is there a future for podcasts?

As audio-editing software and hardware continues to improve, it opens up the opportunity for more patient groups to produce audio podcasts. Although some groups may leap straight to video-editing, which is also becoming easier, audio podcasts are still likely to be around.

Currently the technical quality of patient group podcasts worldwide is highly variable. Some are broadcast quality, but some can be a struggle to hear. We’ve always taken the view that if the content is right – and it so often is from patient groups – people will put up with some bumps and scrapes. Better to get the right content out there than aim for unaffordable technical perfection.     


Hear the weekly Multiple Sclerosis podcast at…

Click here  


View the list of the Alzheimer’s Society’s magazine podcasts at…

Click here


See the presentation podcasts from the Vulval Pain Society at…

Click here


Listen to the podcasts used to support Sarcoma Awareness week at…

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