When it comes to health outcomes, certain social determinants of health –— like inequity and racism, access and geographic location — have long loomed large. But according to Dr. Garth Graham, director and global head of healthcare and public health at YouTube, information should be added to that list — especially in the wake of a year when many people based important health decisions around information they encountered on social media platforms.

In his MM+M Media Summit keynote address Thursday, Graham, a cardiologist and researcher, discussed the year he has spent endeavoring to improve the credibility of health information across YouTube.

Information is now a key part of the patient journey, he noted, with many patients returning home from the doctor’s office after receiving a diagnosis to Google their condition.

“Patient-centered care involves how a healthcare system delivers care to the patient,” Graham said. “But I want to take it a step further and talk about how a patient is receiving information –– understanding how we keep a patient at the center of the equation, how they’re receiving information and how information helps shape and determine health outcomes.”

Due to widespread health misinformation that proliferated during the pandemic, particularly around vaccines, YouTube moved earlier this year to bolster credible health information on the platform. The goal, Graham said, is to create infrastructure that helps deliver authoritative information to those seeking it out.

“We focused a lot around the COVID-19 vaccines and supporting national efforts around vaccines,” Graham said. “The unique way in which YouTube can do that — how we can engage in our creator community and articulate the importance of vaccination but also the safety of vaccines — is through new clues and cues.”

To date, that has involved partnerships with organizations like the Cleveland Clinic and the American Public Health Association, as well as a push to prioritize content from state health departments and public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci. But that has also meant finding ways to make those authoritative voices more engaging.

“[It’s important] to be able to create engaging information that meets patients where they are along their journey,” Graham said. “That includes information that’s culturally relevant [and well-versed in] health literacy, to create information patients can understand.”