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Graduate Studies

Let’s Talk Health (Econ)

Let’s Talk Health (Econ) – the podcast that will get everyone talking about health economics.

microphone

 

For our project, we are proposing to create podcasts – digital audio shows that people can listen to at their convenience- that focus on various relevant health issues that are currently being highlighted in the media. We aim to use our podcast named Let’s Talk Health (Econ) to distill complex topic areas to content and perspectives that are relatable and understandable to all (economists and non-economists).

Expandable List

From both formal and informal discussions that we have engaged in on campus, it has become apparent that there is a lot of misinformation and lack of information surrounding health topics that are currently in the media. For instance, when OHIP+ was introduced, some students were not aware of what it was and that they had access to free prescriptions if they were under 25 years old. The confusion or lack of awareness is understandable given that health and health care are very complex, and we often do not have the time to find and assess the wealth of information we receive each day. It is, however, important that the community receive the correct information given the huge impact these policies have on us. Recently, there have been many policy changes that affect us, including but not limited to the creation of Ontario Health Teams, student tuition changes, fee changes to essential services at the university, lowered price of beer, national Pharmacare, and cannabis legalization. These policies and their effects on health are complicated. We hope that through the podcast, we can explain these policies in lay language and bring attention to the points that are relevant to our community. We find this to be important because awareness brings about positive behaviour change and a demand for change.

Also, by the means of this podcast and by collaborating with topic experts across Canada, we wish to unite individuals who are interested in health, health care, economics and/or health economics not only at McMaster University, but also in the broader Hamilton and Canadian community. We wish to create a community where individuals who are passionate about a topic,  (e.g cannabis legislation, national pharmacare etc.) can come together and actively engage in discussions. Having this platform at McMaster University will also be beneficial because of the access we have to seasoned health economists and policy experts on campus. We also wish to open the dialogue not only to those who have training in health economics, but also to those who do not know about it.

Why podcasts? As the popularity of shows such as The Patriot Act on Netflix, which combines stand-up comedy and adequate research to provide commentary on relevant issues, grows, it shows that there is a demand for accessible platforms that provide lots of information in short amount of time and in an entertaining manner. Other examples include Snapchat’s partnership with colleges to keep students informed about campus issues and the high use of Twitter for knowledge transfer. We have also been inspired by the Economic Expert Panel that Chicago Booth has created in which they poll approximately 90 economists regularly on a wide range of topics and then share the results with the public in a simple format.

In the last decade, podcasts have greatly increased in popularity. As they can be streamed and/or downloaded, they are convenient, readily accessible and freely available. Podcasts, however, are currently not as popular at university settings. Some that we have looked for at for inspiration include Mad Hat Economics which is hosted by Cornell University graduate students and Policy Talks, a podcast produced and recorded by students and alumni at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and the Journalism program at Carleton University. At McMaster University, we have The AlmaMAC which is a radio show that covers the work and research that McMaster graduate students do. Our podcast will be different in that it will focus on health news with a health economics perspective (an area that is infrequently discussed in the podcast community) and will be used as a platform to create a hub that includes not only graduate students but also faculty and staff. Give that podcasts are freely digitally accessible, we hope to also promote them outside of McMaster University and into the Hamilton and Canadian communities. We imagine that podcasts will be used by academics and health care professionals for the purposes of education and dialogue more in the recent future.

We will create eleven, 30-minute podcasts and will release one podcast per month. For each podcast, we will conduct relevant background research, write a script, record the audio clip, edit the audio clip and then publish the podcast. In each podcast, the host will highlight the news item we are focusing on that month, explain the issue and will then invite a topic expert to discuss the topic area using health economic concepts, in lay language. Therefore, we will present each episode in the form of a commentary that is well-researched, incorporates multiple perspectives and is enriched by the expert’s professional and/or academic experience.

For each podcast, we will conduct research, write a script, record audio clip, edit the audio clip and publish the podcast. An outline of each step is provided below:

Conduct research:

We will consult news outlets, government websites and health economics and policy experts at McMaster University for potential podcasts topics. After finalizing a topic, we will conduct focused research on the topic using these same sources as well as academic literature. We will contact a relevant topic expert either within our network or beyond, to ask whether they would be willing to participate in our podcast. The topic expert can be a senior graduate student, a professor, a researcher or an economic consultant.

Scriptwriting:

After conducting research, we will write a script for the host in which they introduce the topic and the topic expert. We will also create guiding questions that will be sent to topic experts in advance to help them formulate their responses.

Record and edit audio:

We will use the resources available at Lyons New Media Centre to record and edit our audio clips. If the experts are located on campus, we will ask them to come to the recording studio. If we have guests on our podcasts that are not located on McMaster University’s campus, we will use Zencastr, which allows for remote interviews to be conducted.

Publish and promote podcast:

We will use SoundCloud to publish our podcasts as it is compatible with many podcasting applications (i.e. iTunes). We will also design a website using WordPress to archive our podcasts on. The website will also act as an active discussion forum for listeners where they can download the podcast and write comments. Moreover, through the website, we will post the responses of our experts to questions we will ask. We will also create a Twitter account to help promote the podcast as well as post notifications. We will email course instructors links to our podcasts hoping that they recommend it to their students as supplemental information.

Our team will consist of researchers and script-writers, editors, a host, and a communication and logistics team which will communicate with guest speakers, the host, and editors, and will also advertise the podcast.

Our team is made up of graduate students from the following programs: PhD Health Policy program, PhD Economics program, Health Research Methodology Masters program and Masters of Public Health program. We all have professional and/or academic experience in health economics and policy and are passionate about bringing health economics issues to the community. We all have connections to various researchers and professionals who have expertise in health economics and/or health policy. We also have experiences in maintaining blogs, interacting with the community and promoting health.

Team members

Sophiya Garasia, Health Sciences, PhD Health Policy, Degree Completion 2021

Role on Team: Researcher and member of the communications and logistics team

Graham Dobbs, Health Sciences, PhD Health Policy, Degree Completion 2021

Role on Team: Host

Tooba Fatima, Health Sciences, Masters of Public Health, Degree Completion April 2020

Role on Team: Researcher and member of the communications and logistics team

Courtney Moore, Health Sciences, Health Research Methodology, Degree Completion April 2020

Role on Team: Editor

Yaswanta Gummadi, Health Sciences, Masters of Public Health, Degree Completion April 2021

Role on Team: Editor

Islam Rabiul, Social Sciences, PhD in Economics, Degree Completion 2022

Role on Team: Editor

By the end of the project, we hope to have created and published 11 podcasts on diverse and relevant health topics. We expect to have a wide range of listeners from students, faculty and community members. We expect listeners to download and share content as well as interact with us and with each other through the website and Twitter. We expect professors to share episodes as part of open content. Overall, we hope that the community becomes more well-informed about health policies that affect us.

May 1 to May 30, 2019

Make a detailed project plan for each of the episodes, finalize team members and their responsibilities, and create Twitter account and website.

First and second week of each month (June 2019 to April 2020)

Conduct research for podcast, have a team meeting with all team members and collaborators, make and edit the script and communicate with listeners on various platforms (i.e. Twitter and website).

Third week of each month (June 2019 to April 2020)

Record and edit podcast and communicate with listeners on various platforms (i.e. Twitter and website).

Fourth week of each month (June 2019 to April 2020)

Publish and promote podcast and communicate with listeners on various platforms (i.e. Twitter and website).