AHRQ shortens and refocuses online podcasts

The agency also simplified its Healthcare 411 site to target consumers

After five years of podcasting, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently reconfigured its offerings to better reach its target audience, said Ellen Crown, the agency's health communications specialist.

AHRQ produces evidence-based research on health care, including information of interest to consumers. It publicizes its findings in audio podcasts at  Healthcare411/AHRQ.gov. 

But although AHRQ previously offered podcasts that lasted as long as 15 minutes, podcasts released since January are just 60 seconds long, Crown said at a Health 2.0 STAT event March 24. The 15-minute broadcasts were too long, but "the 60-second podcasts have worked out really well,” she said.

In addition, although AHRQ previously targeted individual podcasts to clinicians, researchers or consumers, in January it sharpened its focus to consumers only.

"We cannot be everything to everyone," Crown said.  Officials chose to target consumers because that group is underserved and because clinicians and researchers are believed to have other reliable sources of information, she added.

AHRQ previously had seven categories for its podcasts, including newscasts and special reports, but in January, the agency decided to focus on a single category of health information for consumers. “Seven different categories was too much,” Crown said.

AHRQ also has agreements with 650 radio stations and 700 medical organizations to offer the podcasts on their Web sites as a public service, Crown said. The agency also uses online videos, Twitter, YouTube, e-mail and Really Simple Syndication feeds to reach consumers. At the Healthcare 411 Web site, visitors can listen to podcasts, download them or subscribe to a podcast series.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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