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Fighting Fake Medical News
Online: YouTube

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on June 9, 2021

It’s a new season of The Next Big Thing in Health podcast. Dr. Garth Graham, Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Health Partnerships at YouTube / Google, joined hosts Laura Evans and Matt Eyles, AHIP president and CEO, to discuss the importance of health care literacy, education, and online communication as America continues the largest vaccination campaign in history.

Listen to the full interview on Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Stitcher


Laura Evans: As you know, Garth, there’s so much misinformation out there these days. it’s really hard to know what to believe. What’s your best advice for consumers on how to make sure the health information they’re viewing online can be trusted?

Dr. Garth Graham: The source of information is certainly a big factor in that. And I think that’s where we at YouTube have tried to amplify credible sources. And we have some plans in the near future for how we can help patients use our community to help think that through some more. But I think credible sources are a good starting point—sources that have a track record of expanding evidence and articulating health and public health in a way that is reflective of the evidence and the science that we have.

As you pointed out, the flip side of good quality information is misinformation. So, we have to think through how we actively remove misinformation from platforms like ours and supplement that with quality and engaging information.


Matt Eyles: Given your career journey and your familiarity with how health insurance providers operate, what do you think about their role in terms of connecting people with reliable health information?

Dr. Graham: I think health insurance providers are a key part of that. That’s because they’re already a part of the patient’s journey. Because insurers are how patients get connected to services. Health insurers, in many ways, already help provide patients with information.

The challenge we have—and I try to be frank when I say this—is people aren’t looking for that letter in the mail to open up and read about “how do you treat your diabetes?” So, how are we reaching them? How are we engaging them? How are we making sure the diabetic understands the diabetes diagnosis, what hemoglobin A1C means, and how they can take steps to control their diabetes? This is where the innovation around health information starts to take place. That’s where health insurance providers have the ability to work with us and work with others to get out information in an engaging way in the places people are actually making their decisions.

Health insurance providers are leaning into patient-centered care and innovation like never before, so it’s important for them to continue to think through the patient experience, patient journey, and how they are reaching patients at key moments in time when they are making the kinds of clinical decisions that are going to affect their health outcomes.


Laura Evans: Do you think we’re seeing a more permanent change in how people are consuming health care information? And will this change be here to stay beyond the pandemic?

Dr. Graham: It’s changed. The pandemic accelerated what patients wanted and what they were already doing. The health care system caught up to where patients are and how they already wanted to interact with their provider.

For non-serious clinical illnesses, the role of telemedicine and the ability to interact in more convenient ways was already out there, but now more patients want it accelerated. The role of platforms like ours has been accelerated by the pandemic. We knew we were an active source of information for health, but now the rest of the world knows that even more.

You would have never told me that my mom would ask me to explain messenger RNA or that people would want to understand herd immunity and the calculus that goes into that. All of these are complicated terms that you would normally have to pull out a textbook and say, well, the RNA starts here, the ribosomes are here, and all of those things. Now, people want someone who’s going to break it down and explain it in layman’s terms, culturally specific terms. And that’s where platforms like ours are part of the evolution.

I think all of these changes are here to stay, which is for the better, because it empowers communities and patients to make the right decisions.


Matt Eyles: Let’s say I’m an aspiring health care video creator and I want to put some content on YouTube. What recommendations would you have for me?

Dr. Graham: My recommendation, in general, sticks to this broader concept of what we know about health information—what works for health information, engagement, and resonance.  I often say, think about your audience, think about who you’re trying to reach. If you’re a health insurance provider and you know you need to reach this group of people, think about the culturally specific characteristics of that group, and then tailor the message towards them. This is really about the power of video.

One of the things that we often don’t think about in health care, is once a patient receives information, what’s the next driving action. What’s the next thing we want to empower them to do? Those are the ingredients I’d recommend: Think about engagement, think about the kind of resonance you want to create with your audience, think of what a specific community would think about the evidence you were trying to transfer, and then make sure we’re linking all of that with action and purpose.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.