April 26, 2018, 12:54 pm News Staff – Less than three years ago, the AAFP debuted a new podcast from American Family Physician (AFP). Now the AFP podcast has become one of the most popular programs of its kind -- so popular, in fact, that in April, it reached a significant milestone: 1 million episodes downloaded.
The podcast, available without charge, is a collaborative effort between AFP staff and a group of faculty and residents from the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix Family Medicine Residency.
According to AAFP director of journal media Stephanie Hanaway, the podcast was born when Steven Brown, M.D., the director of the residency program, approached AFP's then-editor Jay Siwek, M.D. Brown proposed having program residents create and produce a podcast that summarized each issue of AFP for family physicians, residents and medical students. Siwek quickly signed off on the idea.
AFP executive editor Joyce Merriman explained that the process of turning the idea into a successful product involved substantial contributions from the Academy.
"We knew there would be considerable work required from the professional editing staff, as well -- to set up the accounts in the various platforms, establish measurement mechanisms and reporting, design the web pages, and to coordinate AFP content with the podcast creators," Merriman told AAFP News. "We thought it would be an interesting thing to try and well worth our time, but we never expected this kind of success.”
The AFP podcast is published twice a month in conjunction with the print and online edition of AFP, and highlights key points from each issue. Each episode typically runs between 15 and 20 minutes, and summarizes the journal's feature articles, along with important evidence-based learning objectives family physicians can start using in practice right away. Other segments include interviews with FPs, comments on social media and other timely items. Some episodes also offer content unrelated to specific issues of AFP and brief summaries of other journal features, including Cochrane for Clinicians, Medicine by the Numbers, POEMs (Patient-Oriented Evidence that Matters), and Practice Guidelines.
Downloads were not counted until May 2016, which means the podcast has averaged more than 41,000 downloads per month for each of the last two years. For comparison, podcasts that average 20,000 downloads per month for a year are considered "high impact" for scholarly work.
Podcasts are becoming an increasingly important and useful way to provide information. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 40 percent of all Americans aged 12 or older have ever listened to a podcast, and nearly one-quarter have listened to a podcast just in the past month.