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Podcast culture takes off

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2022 Issue 169 Rising Up
by Adrian Bonenberger

Contents

Clinicians and researchers at Yale School of Medicine are starting podcasts to connect with audiences. One such podcast involves two prominent YSM faculty members who are also old friends.

Podcasts, which are digital media files distributed over the internet, have been around for a few years. Some popular talk programs, however, have contributed to the spread of the pandemic by peddling medical misinformation. In an effort to connect with lay audiences and correct the record, some faculty members at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) have been producing podcasts of their own. Designed to make science and medicine accessible, a handful of podcasts have been launched at YSM since 2020.

One such podcast, Health & Veritas, produced by Yale School of Management, features Harlan Krumholz, MD, the Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and professor in the Institute for Social and Policy Studies, of investigative medicine and of public health (health policy), in conversation with Howard Forman, MD, professor of radiology and biomedical imaging, and professor in the Institute for Social and Policy Studies, of economics, of management, and of public health (health policy). Krumholz and Forman have known each other for years, and had periodically batted around the idea of a conversation-driven podcast. But it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, and with it a barrage of questions from patients, friends, and relatives, that they decided the time had come.

Said Krumholz, “People want black-and-white answers from medicine, and are turning to disreputable but charismatic personalities who claim to have them. Our goal is to explain how medical systems really work, how to understand uncertainty, and to set the record straight.” Health & Veritas features Krumholz and Forman in conversation with each other about emergent research and current events in health and medicine, often along with a guest speaker known to both of them.

Built on collegiality

“We’ve known each other for over 25 years, and are truly friends,” said Forman. “Health & Veritas is something we do on our own time, and it’s important to have that conversational chemistry and trust settled.”

The mutual personal and professional esteem in which the two hold each other is one key to the show’s success so far. Another is the quality of guests, who are drawn from Krumholz and Forman’s substantial professional networks—thus far focused on Yale, though they plan to expand eventually.

“Our first focus is to build an audience that’s organic to the Yale, New Haven, and Connecticut community,” said Forman. They hope to have 1,000 listeners per episode by next year, and have been posting frequently since launching the podcast in September 2021. “If it’s well done with professional production, you can record an episode and have it up in 12 to 24 hours. That’s an advantage of the format,” said Forman.

An advantage of podcasting that appealed to Krumholz is its ability to invite people into a conversation and teach them outside a rigid classroom setting. “In a classroom, you’re talking with dozens of people, and as the teacher, some of that is one way,” he said. “With Health & Veritas we get to learn from a guest, and have a vibrant, animated discussion that’s interesting. We’re promoting information rather than just lecturing people, and sometimes learning ourselves, in real time.”

Another podcast that launched recently is the Addy Hour, featuring Nii Addy, PhD, the Albert E. Kent Associate Professor of Psychiatry and associate professor of cellular and molecular physiology. With 33 episodes recorded since March 2021 and a range of guests and topics, the podcast is well established. Addy takes a slightly different approach with his podcast, focusing more on the neuroscience he practices as well as personal interests that include faith, mental health advocacy and social justice.

Other podcasts have appeared at YSM over the past several years, including Science et al by former resident Daniel Barron, MD, PhD; Flip the Script, by Max Jordan Nguemeni Tiako, MD ’21, MS; and others. “Here at Yale we have access to incredible human talent, and a legacy of excellence,” said Krumholz. “It’s an ideal place for starting a successful podcast, and we’re grateful to the School of Management for believing in ours.”