People love video – but not just for entertainment.  

It’s fast becoming an important medium for instructional purposes. For example, every semester, more and more courses in higher education offer students streaming and on-demand video options. And those students are coming to expect that they’ll have access to video as an integral part of their learning. 

But we can also see the rise of instructional video in everyday life. Think about it like this: YouTube isn’t the second largest search engine in the world just because of cat videos or the countless other tempting diversions it offers. On the contrary, people are turning to YouTube in order to learn 

Profound potential: video in healthcare
Hold those two examples in your mind – video in higher education and video on YouTube – as we now turn to the health care industry. Recorded lectures, medical procedures, staff training, safety/compliance sessions and even patient instructions – these are just a few examples of how clinics, hospitals and other healthcare-related entities are using video to more efficiently and effectively deliver important and often complex information.  

Going a step further, telehealth applications are also growing in use each year. This includes the use of live streaming to provide clinical services remotely (sometimes called telemedicine), in addition to a range of training and education options.  

In fact, a recent Wainhouse Research’s report Prescribing New Solutions for Communications in Healthcare” found that nine out of 10 healthcare respondents (89%) described streaming video as an effective tool for communicating work-related information. 

But while there is a recognized understanding around streaming video and communications, there is a huge gap in utilization for productivity. Nearly 41% of healthcare organizations are missing opportunities for improved productivity, and 46% are missing opportunities to leverage streaming video for savings on travel costs. 

Below are 4 ways to overcome barriers of adoptions to try now: 

1. Remove the barriers to video creation 

IT managers, trainers, and instructional designers – people who are often on the front lines of innovation – know firsthand that change can be a difficult thing in healthcare. Patterns and procedures become deeply ingrained. Also, important protocols need to be followed because, after all, we’re ultimately dealing with people’s lives. And that may understandably slow the process of video innovation.

However, as I see it, the real barriers to more video use in the medical field are neither technical nor administrative; they’re based in attitudes about video itself.

Let’s say you have approval to develop a video library to be used for staff training and continuing medical education. If you just record 10 videos and put them it in a portal, those could be the most riveting 10 videos anyone’s ever watched. But if you're not continually putting more in your system, people will eventually stop coming. When it comes to video, momentum is a big deal.

At this point, I can imagine some of you wondering, “How do we keep up such a feverish pace for video production? And do you know how expensive that can be?” Such concerns actually bring up another crucial question when it comes to video production in health care: What are we talking about when we say “video”? 

2. Don’t make perfect the enemy of production 

First, do you need to go out and purchase industry-grade production equipment – the large cameras, the blinking apparatuses that go with them, and the cables and cords that make it all work? Do you need to renovate a space and convert it into a studio? Or how about bringing in a marketing agency or production company to produce polished and highly edited videos?

The short answer is no. I can tell you from experience that there is definitely a time and place for those kinds of approaches. However, advanced recording technology, pristine studio settings, and Hollywood-quality video shouldn’t be considered necessities when it comes to reaching your target video viewers.

Let’s think back to the YouTube model of quick-and-easy how-to videos. Imagine yourself searching on a topic and hoping to find a helpful video. In that moment, what do you want? 

  • You want to find it quickly. 
  • You want it to be timely and relevant. 
  • You want the sound quality to be good enough to hear clearly.    
  • You want the visual content to allow you to see what you need to see. 

You want to come away with having learned something.

The situation isn’t that different for video users in the healthcare sector. To be clear, this isn’t about setting a low bar for the quality of a video; it’s about being practical and, ultimately, productive.

The reality is that sometimes the expectation for would-be content creators is much higher than it is for the potential content viewer. That’s important to note here because, remember, the more prolific the video production, the more your overall video environment thrives.

So how do you encourage more video to be produced? Rethink who the video creators can be. 

3. Democratized content creation: empower the experts 

Learning technologists in higher education today don't necessarily create video content. They’re empowering the experts – i.e., the instructors – to do so with user-friendly video technologies.

We’re starting to see a similar shift in how hospital systems and other healthcare organizations produce content. But how can IT and learning departments in healthcare facilitate that shift? Let the technology drive innovation and clear the path for the experts – in this case the healthcare practitioners themselves.

First, you may already have great spaces dedicated to meetings and conferences that can fairly easily be modified for convenient video streaming and recording. By doing this, you can encourage more natural video settings. Your speakers or presenters can look out at actual people. You don’t have to subject them to a studio environment, one where they’re surrounded by bright lights as they stare into a camera and speak. If they’re not accustomed to that – and they very likely won’t be – it can be unnerving. And it’s not necessary.

But we don’t need to throw out the studio idea completely, especially when you realize that people today are essentially walking around with studios in their pockets. Smartphones can help accelerate the evolution of how people teach and learn in healthcare – and how video content flows.

For example, if an ER doctor where you work has a particularly effective way of doing a procedure, someone can a hold smartphone and record it. That file can be uploaded to your video platform where it can be submitted for review and approval.  Then, voila, users can have on-demand access to real-world instruction or training from an actual peer.

As this becomes more common, IT and training departments in healthcare can evolve to become content enablers and curators, instead of content creators. In other words, they can focus on making relevant content more easily available.

That in turn opens up a new realm of possibilities.

4. Elevating the value of video 

So, yes, if you record things (and keep recording things) the viewers will come. But to where? Having an easy-to-use, centralized video delivery platform for live and on-demand streaming of video is critical. Ideally, you’ll want it integrated into your existing training environment or learning management system.

And don’t forget about the way people can participate with a video and in a sense collaborate with other viewers by asking questions and providing notes in the comments section. In this way, your video platform becomes a collaborative forum and a supplement to the video itself.

In fact, it’s now possible to encourage interaction with the video by adding polls, quizzes, questions, helpful links and post-video surveys.

On top of that, the videos themselves become data-rich sources of information. Training departments can see detailed analytics of viewer behavior, which can help them make decisions on the need for future videos.

To put it simply, video has an unprecedented ability to deliver information quickly and effectively. Where better to see the benefits of such a powerful medium than in an area as vital as healthcare?

This column originally appeared in Health IT Outcomes. Read it here