The concept of E.A.T. (Expertise, Authority, Trust) was introduced by Google as a ranking factor that they highlight in the quality raters guideline internally used. The subjective concept is meant to help provide guidance when identifying content that has a high bar on who is producing it. This is broadly applied to all health related content because of the real world requirements to be able to speak on it. Not only did Google introduce the E.A.T. concept, they are actively flexing that muscle and producing or partnering with sources they see that exceed the required E.A.T. threshold. This gives us an opportunity to continually answer:
What makes someone an authority?
Youtube and its parent company Google make it clear that the healthcare industry hasn’t just lagged behind in areas of technology, operations, and experience that were sorely brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic – it has also lagged behind in how it communicates online with its potential consumers. The largest aggregator of content is investing in health content production.
A press release from January 2021 makes it clear that YouTube isn’t sitting on the sidelines as just a data/content aggregator anymore. Technology and social media platforms are devoting more resources to thwarting misinformation and highlighting authoritative voices. Youtube has made it clear they are taking a hands-on approach to achieving this goal.
This is a clear call to arms for the healthcare industry at large. With health-related queries being the largest category of search traffic (~5+% of billions of searches) this isn’t a communication problem YouTube can tackle alone. The goal is clearly stated in the headline of the press release: “Bring more authoritative, engaging health content to the platform.” That is a bold statement. Not only is there a quality problem about who is providing the information, but also in how they are providing it.
It goes even further identifying specific communication problems with the current library of health information online. “ The majority of existing health information online is predominantly text-based and lacks the accessibility, depth, and engagement that patients seek.” In translation: the health industry speaks a very different language than those that consume it. Simply put, the information needs to be in a format that is more digestible for the layman. The new executive running the program elaborates by saying, “There is a clear need for more trusted and easy to understand health content online.“
Those in charge of healthcare communications and marketing should see this as a threat and an opportunity. YouTube is making clear strides to partner not only with established health institutions, but with health creators and brands as well. Google has always made it clear which health institutions were key partners for this ongoing project.
The list has continually evolved and expanded. This announcement singles out “the American Public Health Association, Cleveland Clinic, The Forum at the Harvard School of Public Health, Mayo Clinic, Osmosis, Psych Hub, and the National Academy of Medicine, to create high quality health content for viewers around the world.”
While none of the names on that list should be a surprise, some of the health creators that were listed are another story. They are bridging the gap between well known health brands and more consumer forward health creators such as Dr. Natalie Crawford, Dr. Ali Mattu, and Dr. Cedric “Jamie” Rutland.
One thing worth noting about the creators that were listed is the size of their reach, which is relatively small. These creators start to answer the who quality problem and do an engaging and digestible job with the how quality problem. But that brings up the problem of reach. Dr. Garth Graham, Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Health Partnerships at YouTube, says, “Creators will continue to be an important part of YouTube’s health initiatives, given their ability to foster connection with their global audiences in real time.” With authoritative health creators still in demand, that quote makes it clear that much more help will be needed in getting this information out there. YouTube creators (not just YouTube health creators) across the world conducted more than 60 interviews with leading health officials to share helpful COVID-19 information with their audiences.
This announcement goes on to make a point of stating that additional partnerships will continue to develop throughout the year and beyond. This signifies an opportunity for both well established health brands and new health creators. The established brands on the shortlist continue to expand in numerous medical specialties aimed at different health audiences, including medical students with the growth of the osmosis.org platform.
So what does this mean if we aren’t on the short list yet? The team at Tidal Health has spoken about this for years in articles like Medical Marketing, Think Like a Patient and Shift in Healthcare Search. This furthers that concept by identifying more important factors. The goal is clearly stated as to “bring quality content from authoritative, evidence-based sources front and center on the platform”. Focusing on:
- Credible Information (Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment)
- Guided Practices (Fitness Classes, Physical Therapy Demonstrations)
- Emotional Support (Testimonials, Community)
These can be categorized as pre-care, care, and post-care. This couldn’t make it any more clear that YouTube and their parent company) are being hands-on. The content isn’t meant to just be passively informative, it is meant to be actively engaging, covering the entire healthcare interaction from start to finish. It was stated by the YouTube Health team, “The content from YouTube’s health collaborators is seeking to empower patients, while keeping clinicians at the heart of how health is managed.”
Healthcare consumers want more access, involvement, and ease with the healthcare industry. That extends all the way to the first point of interaction online. We are betting that closer access to the constant research of healthcare will only be exposed more. How you keep your information up to date, referenced, vetted, communicated, and validated will only continue to become a more collaborative, real-time experience.