Write Medicine

Enhance Your CME/CE Provider Portfolio with Podcasts

October 31, 2022 Alexandra Howson Season 4 Episode 30
Write Medicine
Enhance Your CME/CE Provider Portfolio with Podcasts
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Podcasts continue to grow in popularity, and educational podcasts have multiplied in recent years. In addition, the trend towards mobile education and shorter, more focused activities will likely continue as millennials become the majority of the health care workforce. 

On this episode of Write Medicine, I talk with Lisa Townsend, a marketing and communications professional working in healthcare associations and non-profit organizations. We discuss the developing role of both accredited and non-accredited continuing education podcasts and how they fit within the education provider's content portfolio in member-driven organizations and associations. 

In particular, Lisa shares insights on how to:

  • Communicate a value proposition
  • Identify what your audience is looking for
  • Deliver accessible member-driven content
  • Evaluate your resources
  • Analyze feedback to focus content on the audience's requirements.

Connect with Lisa
e:
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Production Team
Alexandra Howson PhD, CHCP: Host/Producer
Rhona Fraser BSc BVMS: Show notes
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Alex Howson:

Hello and welcome. I'm your host Alex Howson, and this is Write Medicine, a biweekly podcast that explores best practices in creating content that connects with and educates health professionals. I'm a former nurse and an academic who's now a writer and researcher creating and evaluating education content for health professionals.. I also teach medical writers how to enrich their continuing medical education writing niche. If your work involves planning, designing, delivering or evaluating education for health professionals, this podcast is for you. Podcasts continue to grow in popularity and educational podcasts have multiplied in recent years. In addition, the trend towards mobile education and shorter, more focused activities will likely continue as millennials become the majority of the healthcare workforce. On this episode of Write medicine I talk with Lisa Townsend, a marketing and communications professional, working in healthcare associations and nonprofit organizations. We discuss the developing role of both accredited and non-accredited continuing education podcasts and how they fit within the education providers content portfolio, join us. Hello and welcome. This is Write Medicine and I'm your host, Alex Howson. I'm here today with Lisa Townsend, a marketing and communications professional with expertise in continuing education for health professionals. Welcome, Lisa.

Lisa Townsend:

Thank you for inviting me on the show. Yeah, absolutely.

Alex Howson:

I'm excited to hear about your experience of launching a podcast in the continuing education space, but let's start by talking a little bit about, if you could please share with listeners who you are and what you do.

Lisa Townsend:

Sure. It's definitely exciting to be on the other side of the microphone. So my name is Lisa Townsend and I've worked in marketing and communications for healthcare associations and non-profit organizations for the past 15 years. I started working at a non-profit that was dedicated to heart disease awareness and prevention specifically for. And then I spent the past eight years working for the Association of Community Cancer Centers, or a c they have a multidisciplinary membership of more than 30,000 members on the cancer care team.

Alex Howson:

You said that you worked for a nonprofit, specifically focused on, on, did you say women's cardiovascular? Yes. So how did you find your way into continuing education?

Lisa Townsend:

Yeah, the continuing education focus for me really evolved during my time at ACCC So CME and CE was a growing area of focus for the members, and as the lead for marketing and communications, I work closely with my colleagues in provider education. Editorial contented strategy and clinical affairs to produce and promote the content. So it was really my responsibility to dig into the content to understand the learning objectives. The value of the education and the skills and perspectives that the faculty brought to the table. And then really communicating that value proposition to targeted provider audiences. So truly they would be able to take time out of their busy schedules to tune in and take advantage of the content. And sometimes that's challenging, knowing how busy healthcare providers are. But that was, yeah, that was a big part of my role there. Value proposition is something that a lot of practitioners in the CME/CE space talk about.

Alex Howson:

Could you speak a little bit to what you're looking for in order to communicate value proposition within an education activity or a program?

Lisa Townsend:

Sure. So I think sometimes it is challenging because there are a lot of avenues for education that providers receive on a daily basis. So it's being able to cut through the competition a bit and be able to really dig into the value of, what they're getting from the. So a lot of times I would approach that as a provider to provider perspective. So really working with the faculty to get quotes from them or testimonials to really understand from their perspective how their colleagues would benefit from, either. From the webinar or exactly what it was. And then, when promoting it, really positioning it so it comes from the provider to their colleagues. So sending emails in their name, including testimonials within the email communications and, and images. So that way it felt a little bit more personal. Yeah, that peer to peer piece is important not only in marketing, but of course in education itself.

Alex Howson:

Can you talk a little bit then about why ACCC launched a podcast.

Lisa Townsend:

Sure. So in June of 2019 they lost launched the podcast called Cancer Buzz. And really the goal was to reach the membership in a new format. And to expand our reach to a wider healthcare audience. So having content, on an open access platform like podcast was a new opportunity to introduce oncology professionals to a c and their multidisciplinary approach to cancer care. So we really wanted to make the content more accessible and where. A little bit different that the content is very accessible. So it wasn't just for providers, but it really was also interesting and helpful to people with cancer and their families and caregivers. So that was really the goal. And, we worked with a small production team that was external to the organization and they guided us on the groundwork such as coming up with a name. How that fit into existing names that we had for other platforms. The artwork, the music helping us define our goals, the frequency of the podcasts and the production schedule. And then they also helped us with some script writing, speaker scheduling, and then the interviews themselves.

Alex Howson:

Yeah, the speaker scheduling is a pretty tough call. It's my least favorite part. It's definitely time consuming, especially for providers. Timeing, you're so busy and you're really trying to squeeze in a little bit of time, and you actually answered. My second question was, how you approach the launch process, it sounds as though you had a lot of support from the external production team to, to build that up. Yeah. Having their expertise, because they've done this before, was really helpful for us. So I think it allowed us to skip some of those pitfalls that you might inevitably come across when you've, when it's a new space for you. What kind of pitfalls did you, Yeah, sorry to talk over there. What kind of pitfalls did you encounter in the early days?

Lisa Townsend:

So I think for us it was really, Getting clarity on what our internal process was going to be and how we were going to fit the podcast into the broader content strategy. So we navigated it pretty well. But it was just some things that they helped us to think ahead about that we might not have thought of on our own without that prior experie. It's interesting that, was reading some statistics, which of course I can't remember, but I'll make sure to link in the show notes, the explosion of podcasts that are available for specifically in the accredited continuing. Medical education and continuing education space has been phenomenal in the last five years or so. And of course, some people argue that, there's a demographic issue here in terms of its, it's a younger generation that is largely tuning into learning by listening. Was that something that you found or did you find in your kind of metrics that your listeners were across the board, or was that something you were able to track at all? Yeah, so we, the podcast that we produced were not CME eligible, but I actually sent out a communication survey to the membership earlier this year, and I did query them if they would be interested in podcasts that provided CE credit and I got a 72 response rate that yes, they were definitely interested. Oh, that's huge. Yeah, so that's something that we are gonna explore and really just thinking about, putting that content, in our learning management system and what those extra steps were that we would need to take to have that content accredited. And then, having a non-accredited version that's just open access. That's definitely, an area of interest. And that open access piece is important. And I'll make sure to link in the show notes to Cancer Buzz because it truly is a phenomenal resource for both providers and patients alike. And the podcast host Summer is Summer Johnson.

Alex Howson:

It's quite delightful. She is. She's wonder. and then the pandemic hit How did you actually let's back up there. Cuz you've talked about the launch process. You've talked about how you were trying to of figure out how the podcasts would align with and fit into the other pieces of content that an organization like ACCC provides for members. Resources did you find that you needed or had to identify in order to launch and maintain the podcast?

Lisa Townsend:

Yeah, that's a great question. The first resource that we really thought about even prior to launch was the financial resources. So for an organization, working with an external group we needed to make sure that, we had a plan to ensure that we could consistently publish content and also to have diversity in funding. So that way we weren't, tied to one source, so we didn't risk the channel not being robust. But I think, for those that produce their own podcast in house, they'll obviously have fewer hard expenses. But then that brings you to the second resource, which are the people resources. So you know, your staff and your time. And really depending on, the size of your team and whether you're solo or a few folks in one department. Or if you're working across departments, then it's really coming up with identifying those roles and responsibilities and making sure that's clearly defined as to who's gonna be responsible for the topics and sourcing the speakers and the production and the marketing. And then just having all those workflows defined and the timeline so that. Everybody's on the same page and we can stay on track. And that definitely gets trickier with the more people involved, but we were really able to manage that by having a current and accessible content calendar that was available, for everybody, and just really kept those communications. Flowing and making sure everybody knew where we should. But then I think, if you are a one person show, then you just have to think about how much time you can dedicate to the podcast and juggle that against other priorities. So definitely challenges and opportunities regardless of, what your format is.

Alex Howson:

One of the things Lisa, that's always struck me about ACCC is how tightly integrated personnel are across different functions, marketing and content development and so on. And it's not necessarily something that you see in every organization. So I wonder if you could speak a little bit to how that supports content development and what are some of the things that.

Lisa Townsend:

People who work in education organizations might think about if they want to work more closely with their marketing and communications colleagues. Yeah, I think having an educational strategy that's really guided by your overall, strategic plan for the organization and knowing what your areas of focus are. So what are the members interested? What is your audience interested in hearing from you? What is unique that your organization can provide that others don't? And then, looking at your other educational content buckets that you have that are, in existence already. And then thinking about how your podcast content fits into all of that. Yeah, I have one example I'd love to share. Oh please. 2021. We were producing another virtual conference because Covid, so we the the conference. Team, they had established the agenda and we got to the point where we were recording the sessions and a few of the sessions were shorter than expected. So then, we looked at the agenda and I identified a couple podcasts that aligned with those sessions. And so we were able to integrate the podcast into the conference agenda. So it was actually. Really cool to be able to have recorded sessions with speakers and then to segue into a related topic that's in a different format. That was, a podcast recording. And I think for me it was a moment kind of one of those aha moments where you realize that. We really are aligned across departments and we really are clear on what our goals are and the content that we should be producing. And I think that was something that just happened by accident. We didn't plan to do that, but when it all worked out, it was pretty cool just to see everything come together organically. It felt very purposeful. and it was, but it was also accidental so I think it was one of those experiences that just reminded you that, you are on the right track.

Alex Howson:

Some philosophers would argue there are no accidents. So things came came together because the pieces were in place that you had carefully created and established in the run up to the podcast release is one way of looking at it. Could you talk a little bit about some of the other things that you did during the pandemic that will not be named in order to retool the way that you use podcasts as part of your education for ITC members?

Lisa Townsend:

Absolutely. So at the beginning of the pandemic when we really started to get a sense of. The gravity of what was happening. The leads of the departments at ACCC came up with a plan to create new educational content to support oncology care providers who were really entering unchartered territory. We, we did get input on some of the initial topics from our board members and from other members who were, in New York City and Seattle and who were really experiencing that first wave of the pandemic. So we made a decision to, create a portfolio of abbreviated content. So weekly, 30 minute webinars. Regular blogs, daily updates to the website. And then I suggested that we integrate mini podcasts. Our podcast up until that point, averaged around 15 to 22 minutes, and then the mini podcasts were about five to seven minutes. and we just knew that the members had less time than ever before, so we really wanted to give them some tangible takeaways and some guidance that they could implement immediately. And, switching to a mini format or, having that in our mix really gave us a lot more flexibility. So we were able to produce the podcast in a matter of two or three days. We didn't need to write a memo, with background information and questions because it was simply a 15 minute call with the speaker. We were all on the same page about what was gonna be discussed. And that was relayed to the production team and, the mini podcasts. Typically covered about three questions. So the conversation just flowed and the follow up came pretty naturally. And then the other bonus is that it costs us 75% less to produce the mini podcast. So it gave us a lot of flexibility. And even beyond Covid after that, I think the mini podcasts really transformed the channel because it allowed us to. Be able to add topics that, we wanted to cover but didn't really have a way to do in a more structured way. It allowed us to, recognize health awareness holidays and months and be able to be a little bit more nimble that way. And then we also. Produced mini podcasts when we went back to live conferences. So it allowed us to create some dynamic content like the day of. And so that was also very cool cause we got to hear from the speakers and some of the members who were at the conference. So they gave us, their real time feedback to what they were hearing so we could share that with those that weren't in attendance. So it just gave us a lot of flexibility that we didn't have before. Allowed us to be more nimble, which is always fun, Absolutely.

Alex Howson:

And I'm curious in those early podcasts you mentioned New York and Seattle, where things were clearly unfolding pandemic wise earlier than they were in other places in the country, in the us. Were you able to, were you surprised at some of the things that you were hearing from your members in those early podcast?

Lisa Townsend:

Yeah, so we actually had our last, live conference that first week of March in 2020. And I think for a lot of the staff we realized that something was really going on when some of our board members and, know, past presidents couldn't attend. And so we were really heard from them what was happening. And so that. Really was a wake up call for us. And then once we got back into the office that following Monday, we got together and came up with a plan. And our board of trustees, they supported the initiative and they gave us some funding to get it going. And then we were able get some external funding because it. Resonating and it was really important content and people were consuming it so it grew. And it was probably one of the things that, I'm most proud about of from my time at working at HC is that we really were giving people content that they needed. And it was really refreshing to be able to be so focused, on one topic especially. Coming from a multidisciplinary association where you have a lot of topics and a lot of perspectives, it was and it was really refreshing just to be able to narrow down onto something that was really impactful. Yeah, so it was a pretty cool experience. Live and real and in the moment it's almost, it almost sounds like a piece of oral history.

Alex Howson:

It'd be interesting go back and look at all those podcast episodes and track the unfolding of the pandemic. Yeah. Among among oncology clinicians you've talked about the way that members receive that content. What sense did you get from them that in terms of how they were using the content and how it resonated?

Lisa Townsend:

Yeah, I think the feedback that we heard from them, they gave us direct commentary and then, we would have some surveys and some really quick pulse polls that were part of our webinars. And so they were able to tell us what topics they wanted to hear. If they gave us some feedback in a webinar like the next week, we were able to produce a mini podcast. With the, with what they were need, what they were looking for and what they needed. Being able to respond in real time was also something that was unique. Cuz typically, everything is planned and, you have a schedule and different priorities. So this was truly like a member driven initiative and it really was all for the members. And I think that they were appreciative of it and I think they really really. Benefited from the content and it also allowed us to focus more on personal stories and, and anecdotes and really hearing what people were going through. And it gave people a sense of how they needed to prepare for what was coming. And so it was a nice mix of, being very actionable and here's 10 things you need to know to, prepare. And then also just hearing from people and really what they were going through. So it was pretty powerful.

Alex Howson:

You talked about a value proposition. Yeah. That's huge. Yeah. Yeah. And you've talked a little bit about how in the conference situation you were able to begin to we'll call it serendipitously use the podcast in combination with other kinds of education content. Looking forward, how do you see podcasts evolving as a source of education content, not only for.

Lisa Townsend:

Members of an association like accc, but also in the accredited education world. Yeah, it's really interesting. Last year in May of 2021 we launched a video podcast channel called Cancer Buzz tv. And. That was something new. There were not a lot of video podcasts coming from associations at that point. We were one of the first to really start putting that out. So that was something that I was really proud of and it really gave us an alternate format for webinars. The webinars which required registration, login, and additional steps to access. Oncology professionals are just super busy and they really just want the content and they want it as easy as they can. So we produced these video podcasts with one to three speakers. And again, it felt really conversational. And then if people wanted to dig more into it, we do. Webinars and publications and journal articles and blog posts where, they can get more specific into the content. And, some of them were more clinical in nature and a lot of them in the early stages still did deal with helping providers. Support their patients who, say had like multiple myeloma and were really had a lot of questions about vaccinations and what was safe for them and getting back into the community. Hearing again, like those stories from providers from different practice settings who were working with their patients was really helpful content to be able to share. And I think that re. We had really strong metrics with the podcast and just the ease of access and it resonated well on social media and just having it play automatically on the website just engage people more quickly with a lot less effort. So I think that is something, that we'll see more.

Alex Howson:

Yeah, it's interesting as you're talking about it, I'm thinking, that story sharing is exactly the sort of thing that happens in live conferences and meetings where, clinicians have the opportunity to connect with each other and tell those stories about what's going on in their practice, but that's less and less of an opportunity for clinicians. So it's easy to see how, podcasts, and podcasts can fill that void to some extent. That. As vectors of connection. Yeah. Are there any other things that we haven't talked about that you see as important or interesting or exciting in relation to the role that podcasts can play in education?

Lisa Townsend:

Yeah, I think the, I think that podcasts are really important part of education and whether it is to introduce people to topics. They're not aware of or, hear from other members of the care team that they might not engage with on a daily basis. But hearing their perspective and the value that they bring can really help to change perspectives. I know we did a series on advanced practice providers and the value that they bring to the team and how they can, support physicians in their role and enable them to see more patients and all that they can do. So I think it can just really open up you. Different thoughts and different perspectives. And then, there's always that more content that you can dig into and, and learn more if that's something that you're interested in. But it does. And it also, gives that humanistic side, it's, it, I, it's tough when, people are so busy and they're so focused. Sometimes it's, easy to lose sight of that. Personal aspect of the work and why it matters. So I think that it fits a nice niche there. So you, the po, so podcasts fit within a kind of laddering of content that people can tap into. And just to kinda wrap up, you've talked a couple of times about metrics.

Alex Howson:

What kind of metrics are you finding especially valuable, and are there any metrics that you recommend that would. CME or, CME CE practitioners kind of chart change in perspective. Cuz we, we've touched on that a couple of times and I'm wondering what you're seeing that affirms the capacity of podcasts. Yeah, I think for sure I have seen podcasts that are CME eligible where there are those, pre and post assessment questions to understand the impact that it has on perceptions and perhaps practice. And I think, there's also opportunities through associations to have a group of providers. Volunteer to participate in a podcast series and, listen to a podcast series and do a focus group afterwards and, hear from them as to the impact that had and what their perceptions were. And I think that's really one of the best ways, to learn. And that's how. We improve and continue to produce better content when you really have that understanding of what your audience is looking for. Cuz they're really the ones that we're doing it for. So we really wanna give them what they need the most, especially in a profession like oncology where what they do matters so much and makes such a huge difference in people's. And that's a great place to wrap up this conversation. Lisa Townsend Marketing and Communications Professional. Thank you so much for sharing your insights on the role of podcasts in education.

Lisa Townsend:

Thank you. This was very fun. It was great.

If you're interested in developing a podcast to support your organizations, members. Liza recommends developing an educational strategy guided by your organization's strategic plan. Find a way to align your goals and content. Across departments in your organization. And so this end, Lisa shared insights all high to communicate a value proposition. Identify what your audience is looking for. Deliver accessible member-driven content. Evaluate your resources and analyze feedback to focus content on your audiences requirements. Lisa described how the association of community cancer centers. Developed the councilor buzz podcast to offer their members a new format and reach a wider audience. And how did they discover that a majority of their members were interested in podcasts that provide continuing education credit. Lisa also touched on how using video podcasts are becoming a more accessible way. To reach members than traditional webinars. Thanks for listening to this episode as always. I'd love to hear what you think. Which topics would you like to hear more about? And who would you like to hear from? You can email me write a podcast review on apple podcasts and also you speak pipe direct from the podcast page on my website. And if you haven't yet joined the right medicine community, there's a link to join in the show notes. And as a thank you, you'll receive downloadable bonus content from podcast episodes until next I'm your host Alex Howson. And this is Write Medicine

Introduction to the podcast and to Lisa
Communicating value proposition
Resources for podcast launch
Aligning across departments
Creating dynamic content
Evolution of podcasts in accredited CME/CE
Podcasts as a way to widen perspective in education
Summary