How to create YouTube videos for patient education

Many doctors are now getting into movie production and making videos that are loaded onto YouTube.  These videos are effective in attracting new patients and educating your existing patients.  There are a few guidelines that you can use to create an effective script for each of your videos.  These scripts can be loaded onto your computer in a PowerPoint format and will serve as poor man’s teleprompter to assist in your video presentation.

Begin by telling the viewing audience what is your topic or the condition you are going to discuss.  The next comment is the agenda: define the problem, discuss the evaluation, and review treatment options.  This is the most common agenda to use for most healthcare related conditions.

Start by defining the condition.   For example, “Hematuria is the condition where there is blood in the urine and the urine turns red or dark brown.  This is not a normal situation and requires an evaluation to find the cause of the problem.”

Now write a few sentences about the condition itself, including other lay terms for the medical condition, and describe the anatomy involved or even link the term to a news story or something patients are familiar with from popular culture.  If you are discussing testicular tumors you might mention that Lance Armstrong had testicular cancer and is cured of his disease.

Next provide the signs and symptoms of the condition. (For example, “What are the signs and symptoms of kidney stones?”) 
Describe what the patient will feel or see. Is there pain with the condition? Does the patient feel something abnormal or just see something abnormal? Are there some misconceptions about the symptoms that should be cleared up? Are any particular symptoms more ominous than others?  Are there other conditions that might be confused with the condition?

Now tell the viewer how the condition is diagnosed. 
For this segment, describe how doctors diagnose this problem. What are the typical history and physical exam findings? More importantly, what can a patient expect? Imaging, blood work, diagnostic biopsy, or other invasive procedures? Are the tests done on site or is another appointment required? How long will patients have to wait for results?

Finally describe how is the condition treated.
 Describe both conservative and aggressive treatment options. What are the pros and cons of each method of treatment? Describe the typical or likely outcome in most cases. Describe what patients can expect during a procedure, during the course of treatment, and what the total recovery time will be.  You should also mention the risks and complications of the various treatment options.

You will also want to mention in this segment what are the alternatives of treatment and what will happen if patients ignore your advice or don’t get treated.

It is very effective if you can include a patient to provide a testimonial about what it was like before, during, and after treatment.

I suggest ending each video with a call to action.  For example, my videos end with, “I know you may have some additional questions regarding <name the condition> and I suggest you go to my website, or you are welcome to call my office to make an appointment so that we might discuss <name the condition> further.  I look forward to meeting with you.”

Time yourself, as these videos should be 7-10 minutes in length.  Any longer, you will lose your viewer and he/she will either click off of your video or start thinking about something else.

Bottom Line:  Videos are an excellent method of attracting new patients and educating existing patients.  Creating a script is the first step.  By following a few guidelines, you can create a compelling video that will result in improvement in educating the public and the patients in your practice.  You may not get an Academy Award for your efforts but you will have better educated patients.

Neil Baum is a urologist at Touro Infirmary and author of Marketing Your Clinical Practices: Ethically, Effectively, Economically. He can be reached at his self-titled site, Neil Baum, MDor on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • http://www.zdoggmd.com ZDoggMD

    The prospect of using YouTube to connect with and educate patients has been extremely promising for a long time. The main problem is that most of the videos produced are so boring and dry that they are unwatchable. We’ve been making videos since 2010 with the intent of educating while entertaining (a tough balance, admittedly, and sometimes we accomplish neither goal). Still, I think the video aspect of social media will increasingly be a crucial tool for healthcare providers.

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL95A5CA3C05869807

    http://ZDoggMD.com

    • Janice Mancuso

      In 2010 I sent my 20-something sons “Manhood in the Mirror” by ZDoggMD (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fypm_aeR5qA) to inform them about testicular cancer. They forwarded it to all their friends. Nuff said. (PS Sometimes I go watch it again because it’s so much fun!)