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MercyOne podcast

Recording the "Your Best Life" podcast at MercyOne Waterloo are Sheri Purdy, left, and Colby Yoder.

CEDAR RAPIDS (AP) — It’s not just a Super Bowl ad.

There are different ways to get messaging out to the public, and a podcast is the latest method Northeast Iowa hospitals are using to connect with patients about health and wellness.

“You can’t just have a billboard. You can’t just have a flyer. You have to get out there and put your message where people are looking for it, and a podcast is the thing that’s accessible right now to a lot of people,” said Dr. Dustin Arnold, chief medical officer at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids.

Area hospitals recently have launched podcasts focused on health care topics relevant to patients. In addition to St. Luke’s, MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center has launched a podcast of its own.

“We need to reach out to Iowans and have a real talk using our expertise,” said Sheri Purdy, wellness manager for the Waterloo hospital and a host on its new podcast.

Arnold is the host of the St. Luke’s podcast, called “LiveWell Talk On... ,” which launched about a month ago. So far, nine episodes have been released through streaming services.

On each episode, Arnold dives deep into specific topics with other St. Luke’s providers. In a recent recording, St. Luke’s birth care nurse Shari King discussed top questions for expecting parents, ranging from selecting names to the importance of finding a pediatrician before birth.

In Waterloo, the podcast called “Your Best Life” takes more of a philosophical approach to living well, Purdy said.

The weekly podcast — featuring the voices of Colby Yoder, lead personal trainer, Merriam Lake, wellness center facilitator, Deb Olson, wellness center facilitator, and Purdy as the hosts — focuses on living well. The episodes are recorded in Waterloo, but will include experts from across the statewide MercyOne network.

The seven episodes released so far discuss topics like concussions, using dumbbells during exercise and breast cancer screening.

However, Purdy said the podcast also goes beyond that. Hosts aim to bring normalcy to discussing health and wellness — particularly around certain conditions that may be embarrassing to talk about, such as incontinence.

By talking about those topics in a humorous way, Purdy said they hope it will help get the elephant out of the room.

“People are shy about talking about their medical issues,” she said. “They don’t want people to know they’re sick or feeling a certain way, but we all need the help. And we all need to laugh about it, because it’s life.”

The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine already has found success in its podcast, which launched in 2010 and now boasts about 20,000 listeners.

Called “The Short Coat,” the weekly show features a rotating cast of medical students at various points in their education to offer a window into the medical school experience.

David Etler, producer for “The Short Coat,” initially launched the podcast for prospective medical students, but said it doesn’t necessarily focus on Carver College. The hosts also delve into current events or other relevant health care topics.

Etler said podcasting can be a great avenue for informing others, if done correctly.

“I could go to a conference and talk about some topic and maybe reach 40 people in that room,” he said. “But I can talk about that same topic on a podcast and reach thousands. It’s a really efficient way of getting your information out.”

But, he added, “that creates a dilemma for people listening because they have to — just like anything else on the internet — sort out what’s true and what’s accurate.”

Instead of focusing on the technical aspects of medicine, Arnold said, officials have found it’s important to answer the everyday questions patients have.

“All doctors have a white coat,” Arnold said. “People just expect you to be an expert in your area and to be competent. So you have to take the next level and be able to explain it in everyday language, because that’s what they’re wanting to hear.”

The “LiveWell Talk On...” and “Your Best Life” podcasts are available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and other podcast players.

“The Short Coat” also is available on these subscription services. Episodes, as well as more information on the podcast, can be found at theshortcoat. com.

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