On the May 20 episode of Rheuminations, a Healio podcast that shares “ripping yarns of the immune system gone awry,” host Dr. Adam J. Brown approached the topic of Whipple’s Disease by referencing a patient whose history “consisted of some weird stuff.” The short anecdote ended well – with a long-sought diagnosis courtesy of “one of the best catches I’ve ever seen from another physician” – and served as an easy bridge into a discussion about an arcane medical condition.
It’s that mix of deep scientific authority and off-the-cuff banter that has helped Rheuminations and Healio’s other HCP-focused podcasts be heard over the rising din of audio content. The company formally announced its fifth offering last week: Oncology Overdrive, which joins Rheuminations, Eye Care Out Loud, Gut Talk and Unmasking COVID-19 on the Healio slate.
According to Healio chief content officer Joan-Marie Stiglich and editorial director Stacey Adams, the overarching goal from the outset has been to “identify and explore knowledge gaps,” as Adams put it, but do so in a manner that eschews the unrelenting seriousness of many other doctor-focused podcasts. “We saw podcasts as easily digestible and a way to get HCPs what they need and want,” she added.
Healio’s difference-maker might be its hosts, who give each podcast an identity that transcends really-smart-person-discussing-really-involved-material. Each brings with her or him a huge degree of authority, yes, but also an equal amount of enthusiasm. Listening to the podcasts, one senses that the hosts might be having the same conversations even if the record button hadn’t been pressed.
“It’s a labor of love for them, which is a big part of why it works,” Adams said. Stiglich agreed, adding, “They’re so genuine in what they’re doing. That’s the connection and the chemistry you’re hearing.”
It doesn’t hurt that each host is exceedingly well-connected, both within her or his area of expertise and within the broader world of health policy. By way of example, a recent edition of Gut Talk featured Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who was treated in the past by one of the show’s hosts.
Asked to assess the broader landscape of health and wellness podcasts, however, Adams drew a distinction between Healio’s approach and the one adopted by podcasters hoping to reach a wider consumer audience. “There’s such a broad spectrum,” she explained. “You have Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop talking about the benefits of celery juice, which haven’t been proven, versus what we do, which might go through the history of a certain condition or discuss a medical mystery.”
In the wake of the success of Unmasking COVID-19 (“suddenly there was this broader physician audience,” Stiglich recalled), Healio expects to expand its podcast slate. It won’t do so, however, at the expense of the credibility it has earned among physicians and supporters like GlaxoSmithKline. “Lots of people have approached us,” she acknowledged.
The company’s next big opportunity may come when medical meetings resume. “In that environment, not only are you face-to-face with physicians, but you’re face-to-face with them at a time when they’re living and breathing the science,” Stiglich continued. “That could bring a unique angle to what we do.”