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23rd May 2023

The London Roadshow in retrospect part 1: the YouTube Health Initiative

The Med-Tech World Roadshow held in London on Monday featured a keynote address on the YouTube Health Initiative, emphasising the platform’s commitment to making high-quality health information easily accessible to everyone. The speaker, Dr. Vishaal Virani, representing the UK arm of the global initiative, highlighted the significance of YouTube’s extensive reach and its potential to deliver health-related content to a wide audience.¬†

YouTube Health Initiative: Making accessible quality health information

The mission of the initiative was introduced as a collaborative effort to raise awareness among the healthcare community and provide valuable health information through the platform.

“We’re dedicated to making high-quality health information easily accessible to everyone.”

YouTube’s prominence as a preferred medium for information consumption was underlined, with statistics revealing that the average daily time spent by 18 to 34-year-olds on YouTube in the UK was 70 minutes. This extensive viewership presented a unique opportunity to disseminate healthcare content, including preventative health advice and public health messages.

Dr. Vishaal Virani shared data from 2021, demonstrating the substantial demand for health-related videos on YouTube. Nearly 200,000 health videos were uploaded in the UK alone, generating over 2 billion views. However, the variability of content quality remained a challenge, prompting the establishment of the YouTube Health Initiative.

YouTube’s universal appeal was emphasised, citing a study indicating that three-quarters of surveyed users agreed that the platform was for everyone. This inclusivity extended to diverse communities, including LGTBQ+, individuals with disabilities, and various ethnicities. Moreover, nearly 80% of respondents acknowledged YouTube’s representation of a wide range of voices and perspectives, with multiple content creators offering unique insights into topics such as breast cancer and diabetes management.

“YouTube represents a wide range of voices, people, and perspectives. It is not just about providing one video, but a variety of content from different voices.”

The ongoing pandemic had further amplified the importance of online health education. The address highlighted a significant increase in people’s desire to educate themselves about health issues, as access to traditional healthcare providers became limited. The surge in information availability and its improved quality indicated a growing trend in self-education for better health outcomes.

The impact of YouTube Health

Dr. Vishaal Virani, Head of UK Health, YouTube at the Med-Tech World Roadshow in London.
Dr. Vishaal Virani, Head of UK Health, YouTube.

Several examples were shared to illustrate the impact of YouTube Health. The NHS channel was praised for its informative videos, such as a tutorial on checking moles for potential skin cancer symptoms. The comments section of such videos provided evidence of the positive influence YouTube content could have on individuals’ health awareness.

Additionally, personal stories shared by individuals like Mesha (YouTube: MrColitisCrohns), who lived with inflammatory bowel disease, demonstrated the supportive nature of YouTube’s health community. Dr. Vishaal Virani emphasised that YouTube Health not only empowered patients to take charge of their health but also fostered empathy and understanding for various medical conditions among viewers.

“People’s empathy for health conditions significantly increases when exposed to related content.”

Ensuring both accessibility and high-quality information remained key objectives of the YouTube Health Initiative. The four Rs of responsibility framework guided their approach, which included removing content that violated community guidelines and reducing lower-quality content. The initiative aimed to raise and reward authoritative voices and organisations by providing exposure, opportunities for monetisation, and brand-building assistance.

“We collaborate with third parties to set content standards and support content creators.”

Collaboration with third parties played a crucial role in YouTube Health’s success. Partnerships with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and NHS England facilitated the creation of content standards for channels seeking inclusion in the health shelves. The standards were made available on the NHS website, with ongoing efforts to refresh and update them.

Dr. Virani underscored the importance of delivering early information regarding potential cancer symptoms through platforms like YouTube, leveraging its existing use as an entertainment medium. He emphasised the positive influence of educational content and exercise programs on individuals managing chronic conditions like heart problems. Notably, a captivating event took place at their Kings Cross offices, gathering renowned creators specialising in fitness, wellness, and nutrition, all dedicated to producing valuable content on preventive health subjects.

The address urged health organizations, medical doctors, licensed nurses, and psychologists to actively participate in YouTube’s health education initiatives by creating channels on the platform. Collaboration was emphasised as a vital aspect, and it was announced that applications for health shelves would be open from mid-June onwards, inviting eligible individuals and organizations to apply.

“Think about the impact that you could have on the platform. Think about creating a channel, then connecting and collaborating with each other. There’s a lot of magic when different channels, different voices come together to create content.”

Med-Tech World Roadshow: Inspiring success and future collaborations

The Med-Tech World Roadshow in London proved to be a resounding success, leaving participants inspired and eager for future collaborations. The event, organised by Med-Tech World’s diligent team, was made possible thanks to the invaluable contributions of YouTube Health, StartUp Health, and Malta Enterprise. The networking opportunities provided during the meet-up opened doors to new connections and potential partnerships within the healthcare industry. The enthusiasm to continue working together was palpable among attendees, reflecting the shared commitment to innovation and progress.

As we bid farewell to this remarkable event, it is essential to mark your calendars and sign up for the upcoming Med-Tech World Summit, scheduled for October in Malta. This highly anticipated summit promises to be another exceptional gathering, offering a platform for further exploration and discussion of cutting-edge advancements in the field of medical technology.