Michael Laccheo, MD, Paul Sufka, MD, and Suleman Bhana, MD, were shooting the breeze back in March. The setting? Your smartphone.
Explore this issueOctober 2014
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The three rheumatologists are podcasters and they produce a podcast with the literal title, The Rheumatology Podcast, presumably to make it easy to find in searches.
At the start of a recent show, the three were talking about, of all things, podcasting, including how they came to start one of their own.
“I found two bozos on Twitter [who] were nerdy enough and geeky enough for me to record with,” says Dr. Bhana, affectionately known as “Sully” to the others. “That’s basically what happened.”
The easygoing style is what the three doctors were going for when they started producing the show about two years ago. The podcast, which comes out once or twice a month, now has about 500 listeners.
In an era of on-the-go doctors, podcasts could become more central to the way rheumatologists and other physicians get their information—and stay entertained. They offer a way to keep up with the literature and to stay connected with the rheumatology community.
The number of podcasts produced in the U.S. has actually been fairly stagnant since 2010, when there were 89,455, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2013, there were 91,794, according to the Pew Center.
But the number of podcast listeners—those who said they listened to a podcast in the past month—rose 25% from 2013 to 2014, according to Edison Research. The firm found that 15% of Americans—or 39 million people—had listened to a podcast in the previous month.
If The Rheumatology Podcast is any indication, part of the reason for the stagnant number of podcasts—but a counterintuitive jump in listenership—might be that the overall quality of podcasts is improving, if not the number of them.
In fact, the lack of what they saw as a quality rheumatology podcast was the main reason the trio began producing their Web-based show. When they searched “rheumatology podcast” on Google, they mostly drew blanks.
“There’s not any other great rheumatology podcast out there,” says Dr. Sufka, a rheumatologist with HealthPartners in St. Paul, Minn. “There [are] some that go along with medical journals, but often they’re not talking about truly relevant topics for clinical rheumatologists. Some of them are directed more at news-type information.”
Michael Laccheo, MD, a rheumatologist with Arthritis & Rheumatic Diseases in Williamsburg, Va., and the most tech minded of the group, says some call themselves podcasts but really just involve “reading the table of contents of the journal that month.”