Podcasts spreading information to battle infectious disease

Richard Oehler, MD, FACP, often gets questions about obscure infectious diseases. After all, it’s his field.But these days, Dr. Oehler gets questions from all around the world, thanks to USF’s ID Podcasts.

Dr. Oehler recently was contacted by a man in India, asking for more information about research and treatment of non-tuberculosis mycobacteria. He reached out to Dr. Oehler, associate professor and director of clinical education for the USF Health Division of Infectious Disease & International Medicine, after seeing his podcast online. His father had been diagnosed with the disease, and Dr. Oehler’s podcast had given him a better understanding of his struggles.

Richard Oehler, Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine

 Dr. Richard Oehler

The podcasts were created by Dr. Oehler and John Sinnott MD FACP FIDSA, the new chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. The Division of Infectious Disease & Internal Medicine is now celebrating the fifth anniversary of the ID Podcasts, which first went live on the website on June 27, 2007.

Fellows, faculty and other clinicians affiliated with University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine have produced over 150 podcasts related to infectious diseases for the IDPodcasts.net website, making it the internet’s leading infectious diseases podcast site. After ID Podcasts made its mark as the very first infectious diseases podcast site in the nation, the co-creators started looking at other ways to disseminate their content, such as Apple’s iTunes store, which added them as a free podcast series in 2008.

With healthcare trending toward mobile web applications, co-creators Richard Oehler and John Sinnott partnered with Absolute Mobile Solutions in Tampa, FL to create mobile versions of the website. With its debut in 2009, ID Podcasts was the first streaming iphone app at USF and the entire state university system. ID Podcasts also made history in 2010 as the first ipad app created at the University of South Florida. Shortly thereafter, the ID Podcasts app became available in Google Play.

In 2011, social media features were added by integrating ID Podcasts into Facebook and Twitter. By following status updates and tweets, people everywhere can receive alerts for newly released podcasts, updates for mobile apps and more.

On January 13th, 2012, Dr. Oehler inaugurated the  ID Podcasts Youtube channel. In less than one year, the YouTube channel currently has attracted more than one hundred worldwide subscribers and 25,000 views. That means on the Youtube channel alone, USF’s infectious diseases podcasts are being viewed over 50 times a day, reaching people across the globe.

At the heart of IDPodcasts vision for spreading infectious diseases information worldwide is a goal to make it as accessible to users as possible.  All podcasts are available free of charge to anyone in multiple formats (i.e., the website, Youtube Channel, smartphone apps, etc).  Although the original intent was to provide information to medical professionals, it has become increasingly clear that IDPodcasts audience is much more diverse.

The man who contacted Dr. Oehler from India, for example, shared the story of his father’s diagnosis with a strain of non-tuberculosis mycobacteria, and how he continually battles drug resistance, medication side effects, and secondary infections. He reached out to Dr. Oehler for any information on advances in research and treatment options. He also thanked Dr. Oehler for making this podcast public, as it helped him better understand his father’s condition, which in turn greatly enhanced his understanding and appreciation of the treating physician’s decisions. At his request, Dr. Oehler also provided a personal copy of the podcast so he could share what he has learned with others.

IDPodcasts has also been instrumental in recruiting new doctors to USF.  Many physicians who have interviewed for medical fellowship and residency programs at the university have cited the podcast series as a regular part of their educational tools in learning infectious diseases (ID). Dr. Oehler hopes to someday develop IDPodcasts into a more comprehensive resource, incorporating not just Infectious Diseases content, but other medical disciplines as well.

- Story by Lindsey Bierschenk, MS, Communications Coordinator, Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine