Infectious disease podcast series celebrates 10th anniversary

“How can we take the outstanding teaching of our local USF faculty to a wider audience?” This was the question asked by University of South Florida infectious disease faculty members Richard Oehler, MD, and John Sinnott, MD, now chair of the USF Health Department of Internal Medicine, asked in 2007. Their answer was USF Health’s ID Podcast series.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the ID Podcast series has developed an expansive online audience, offering more than 200 podcasts with content covering the history of medicine, HIV and AIDS care, public health, tropical medicine, hospital acquired infections, STDs, and infections in immunocompromised patients.

Richard Oehler, MD, of the USF Health Division of Infectious Disease, helped establish the ID Podcast series.

The series started as a way to archive and share faculty presentations of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Infectious Diseases (ID) Division with USF infectious disease students, residents and staff.

“We didn’t initially think this was something that would eventually attract such a large national and international following,” said Dr. Oehler, MCOM Class of 1992 graduate, ID Division faculty member since 2002, and newly promoted professor of medicine.

The first podcast was posted on the website, IDPodcasts.net, June 29, 2007, and featured a tour of the medical wing of the London Museum of Science, which Dr. Oehler had recently visited.  He originally produced the podcast to share with his colleagues within the ID Division, but the website was so well received that Dr. Oehler began uploading more podcasts.

Over the years, compelling, interesting content from ID faculty and fellows and from guest contributors is what has attracted the many thousands of online listeners, Dr. Oehler said. “The quality of our teaching is why people listen. We show off USF’s outstanding teaching every day.”

One key to the success of the series has been its adaptation to emerging technology throughout the years.  Since 2007, a plethora of technological advances have changed the way consumers get information, including the streaming media sites YouTube, Khan academy, and TED online, as well as smartphones and tablet devices.

“This is how we were able to capitalize on expanding to a wider audience. When we created the universal streaming iPhone/iPad app in 2010, it was the first ever streaming media app for USF and the entire state university system,” he said.

The ID Podcast series can be accessed by visiting IDpodcast.net

The ID Podcasts YouTube channel along with related Facebook and Twitter social media accounts have been critical in reaching a wider online audience.  The YouTube channel now has more than 600,000 lifetime views and a subscriber base of more than 3,000 from 200 countries, Dr. Oehler said, making it as popular as established national online sites for physicians and other health care professionals, such as the American Medical Association and Medscape.com.

“We regularly hear that IDPodcasts is one of the main reasons why people come to our USF fellowship and training program in infectious disease,” said Dr. Oehler. “It’s very gratifying to hear and see the positive comments on our forums given the still-modest resources we have to produce it. I know it matters. Not just to USF students, house staff and faculty, but to a medical and non-medical audiences across the internet.”

Going forward, Dr. Oehler wants to expand the site’s international offerings.  He recently created a new channel, “ID Podcasts International.”  Two podcasts on the channel were contributed from professors at Universidad CES in Colombia, and another is a skin infections lecture recorded in Mandarin by Dr. Sinnott.

“We realize there are many individuals from other countries who are not native English speakers, but who want to listen to our content,” he said.

As the series enters its second decade, Dr. Oehler and Dr. Sinnott are confident that USF’s IDPodcasts will continue to impact even more people across the globe.