Google has a mind to utilize its second search engine, Youtube – which just so happens to be the second-largest in the world – to make “high-quality health content available for viewers around the world”. In order to surface such information in new ways, Youtube has created a new health partnerships team to “address the evolving digital health needs of consumers and continue connecting people with credible health information”.
This new team consists of organizations like the American Public Health Association, Cleveland Clinic, The Forum at the Harvard School of Public Health, Mayo Clinic, Osmosis, Psych Hub, and the National Academy of Medicine. It will be led by one Dr. Garth Graham, who is the Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Health Partnerships for Youtube – Whew! That was a mouthful. Hopefully, this means that there will be a lot of super-smart people working on ways to remind us to take breaks from binging Youtube playlists to stretch and drink some water.
All joking aside, Dr. Graham actually gave some insight into what his vision for health content on YouTube is:
“My team’s mission is to empower people to live their healthiest lives through knowledge, support, and inspiration. Most importantly, we want to ensure access to credible, evidence-based information from trusted sources. But with so much information out there, the question becomes: How do you know which information is credible? And how do you find sources that make the complicated medical jargon more accessible and easy-to-understand?”
Because people on Youtube probably aren’t the type of crowd to watch cable TV or read a physical newspaper, according to the good doctor, where sources are apparently more credible and cross-checked for trustworthiness, this new initiative would seek to place more fact-based videos in your feed, presumably only while searching for them.
With everything that’s going on with the pandemic, searches for information on COVID-19 and vaccinations have skyrocketed. Google themselves recently announced other partnerships to help surface trustworthy information on vaccines too. Today’s news isn’t explicitly focused on information surrounding the pandemic, but it does include it along with any and all other health and wellness related searches. I’m fully on board with getting someone to vet information that’s being consumed in cases where users are searching for fact-based answers and not opinions, and Dr. Graham seems to be just the person to lead such an initiative.
He previously worked as the President of the Aetna Foundation and served as the Assistant Dean for Health Policy and Chief of Health Services Research in the Department of Medicine at the University of Florida School of Medicine and before that, he was the Chief Community Health Officer at CVS Health and as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — under both the Bush and Obama Administrations.
Basically, this guy has more titles and long-winded introductions than I can fit on the front and back of a graphic tee, and I respect that. If he can find new ways to take complicated medical jargon and make it more accessible and easy to understand on a platform that many believe to be rife with misinformation, then that would be an amazing achievement.
I do think that having a committee responsible for helping to empower and educate new audiences with accurate information through the most utilized modern vehicle of our time, the Internet, is both a natural evolution of human effort and a very interesting one that could be useful to many. When asked what’s next for this initiative, Dr. Graham had a great response that I think deserves to be highlighted here without alteration. His goal seems both admirable and noble – we’ll see how this plays out over the coming weeks, months, and years!
“As a clinician myself, I can’t tell you how exciting it is that patients will be able to arm themselves with the right information so that they can ask the right questions of their doctors and take a more active role in their own health, overall. For years, medical information has mainly existed in an “ivory tower” – accessible only to clinicians, academics, scientists, or anyone not intimidated by medical jargon in Latin. We want to change this. We want to make public health truly PUBLIC. This is the first step in that direction with many more to come. I look forward to providing you with more updates in the coming weeks and months. Until then, stay safe and stay healthy.”
Google is clearly very much interested in ramping up its medical offerings, and I think that it could do a lot of good if handled properly. Now that they believe that they own Fitbit, today’s news, along with all of its other recent efforts in this space could point to a large health-oriented marketing push this year or next – just an educated guess. Only time will tell. What are your thoughts? As always, I’d love to discuss this in the comments!