It’s hard to believe that YouTube has only been around since 2005. The video platform is now driving more web traffic than just about anywhere. With over one billion users in 88 countries who watch one billion hours of content each day, the reach of YouTube is in a class of its own. It has all but surpassed television viewership and indeed reaches more people than any single US television network.
YouTube is a global phenomenon and the platform’s reach continues to expand. – source
The 18 to 34 year-old demographic is YouTube’s most popular, but people of all ages are streaming video. More than half of the content viewed on YouTube is via a mobile device.
YouTube and Online Patient Communities
The video giant has a lot to offer just about every industry. For online patient communities, it’s a robust way to connect, learn, and interact with one another. Patients can view video content from trusted healthcare sources like The Cleveland Clinic or The American Heart Association, but they can also hear from each other.
For patients, there is a directness and an intimacy to video content that is different from a Tweet or a blog post. For patients with chronic illness who might feel isolated or alone, being able to feel a connection to another patient through video can be a life-changing experience.
YouTube is often called the second largest search engine, after Google. We’ve seen time and time again that patients are increasingly turning to the web to learn more about health topics, and YouTube is one of the places they search.
How many of those searches are health related? – source
Type in any given health condition, and you’ll get a plethora of hits. Type in Lupus, for example, and you’ll see nearly 800,000 results. These include educational videos from medical professionals, personal stories from patients living with the disease, and more. Video content from a Patient Leader might be the most valuable content for fellow patients. Luckily, there are a lot of great Patient Leaders who are active on YouTube!
2017 WEGO Health Awards – Best in Show: YouTube
This past year, we selected five finalists in the YouTube category out of dozens of nominees. These Top YouTube Patient Leaders are examples of the power and reach of video content. By sharing an intimate look at their personal stories while also sharing their expertise, they are connecting with other patients in really important ways.
Top YouTube Patient Leader #1: Kati Morton
“I’m Kati, a licensed therapist making Mental Health videos.” This simple introduction is the way finalist Kati Morton describes her YouTube channel. But for her hundreds of thousands of subscribers, that straightforward sentence doesn’t even begin to reflect her impact. They describe her as inspiring, dedicated, encouraging, and impactful. In endorsing Kati for the WEGO Health Awards, multiple people suggested that her work has saved lives.
Kati uses her expertise as a therapist to offer insight and support to those struggling with mental health issues. Among the many topics she covers are eating disorders, self-harm, suicide, depression, and anxiety. Her tone is friendly and approachable. For her fans, she manages to fill the role of both therapist and friend simultaneously, helping to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
In addition to doing produced videos, Kati includes some informal chats, responds to fan questions, and occasionally does live videos. Her channel is helping to raise awareness and reduce stigma, while providing support to those who need it – and it’s making a big difference.
As of this writing, Kati’s channel has over 318,000 subscribers and more than 28.3 million views.
Top YouTube Patient Leader #2: Amy Lee Fisher
2017 WEGO Health YouTube winner Amy Lee Fisher has two YouTube channels, Amy Lee Fisher and Amy’s Life, both centered around her life with chronic illness. Amy lives with a number of illnesses, including HKPP, Gastroparesis, and POTS. In introducing her YouTube channels, Amy says:
“I suffer with chronic illness, but I’m determined to not let it get in the way of doing what I love! I LOVE spreading awareness about chronic illness & I LOVE making videos and even better I love making them for you guys and watching you all enjoy them!”
Through her videos, Amy hopes to educate others. She says that social media channels like YouTube have changed her life for the better. In turn, her videos are changing the lives of other patients for the better. In her endorsements, she was described as a person who uses her story to help others through the struggles of daily life with chronic illness.
As of this writing, Amy’s main channel has over 42,000 subscribers and more than 3.5 million views. Her secondary channel has over 20,000 subscribers and more than 1.3 million views.
Top YouTube Patient Leader #3: Wendy Lau
Wendy Lau’s YouTube channel might only have 153 subscribers, but her impact is still significant. As Len pointed out in endorsing Wendy, Addison’s Disease doesn’t have a breadth of awareness, so Wendy’s work is particularly important. She has one of the only Patient Leader channels on YouTube for adrenal insufficiency. Born in the UK, Lau now lives in Hong Kong and her channel is also significant for being home to the first bilingual English/Chinese video on the topic.
In sharing her story, Wendy hopes to educate others about her condition, but even more importantly, she wants to show “how there is always HOPE for chronically ill patients, even when bedridden or constantly in the hospital.”
As of this writing, Wendy’s channel has over 150 subscribers and more than 7,000 views.
Top YouTube Patient Leader #4: Loïs Mills of Gut Instinct
Loïs runs a YouTube channel named Gut Instinct. As someone who lives with Crohn’s Disease, Loïs hopes to “beat the ‘poo taboo’ through humour and honest conversation.” In addition to being a vehicle to share her story and a place to educate others about her condition, Gut Instinct is also a place for topics like body image. Specifically, she strives for her videos to empower others and show that “invisible disease does not have to make you invisible.”
To understand the impact her videos are having, all you have to do is glance at the comment section on many of her videos. There are numerous conversations about the topics she discusses, new questions are raised, and there is an overpowering feeling of gratitude. One young commenter writes that the video “made me feel like I’m not the only one.”
As of this writing, Loïs’s channel has over 2,450 subscribers and more than 92,000 views.
Top YouTube Patient Leader #5: DiabeticDanica
Danica is a Registered Nurse and Patient Leader living with Type 1 Diabetes. Her DiabeticDanica YouTube channel takes a lighthearted and positive approach to Diabetes advocacy. Describing her channel, Danica writes:
“I make educational, yet entertaining videos on all things diabetes! From tutorials to song parodies to day-in-the-life videos and personal stories – I try to provide a positive, uplifting approach to taking care of your Type 1 diabetes.”
When endorsing Danica, Rich described her as “awesome in front of the camera” and someone who taught him a lot. Among her content topics, Danica has featured unboxing videos for health-related products, Q&A sessions, and livestreams.
As of this writing, the DiabeticDanica channel has over 20,000 subscribers and nearly 2.5 million views.
YouTube doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Even as other social networks like Facebook try to grow and expand their video content, YouTube is still on top. Experts predict that video will make up an astounding 82 percent of all internet traffic by 2021.
For online patient communities, the growth of video could be a very good thing. When the content is engaging, empathetic, and of high quality – like the content in these Patient Leader YouTube channels – it can educate, expand awareness, and help other patients feel less alone.