(Screenshot via YouTube/Osmosis)
From actions to take to stop COVID-19 from spreading to the importance of flattening the curve, there’s a lot to learn about infectious diseases these days.
As a health education company, Osmosis puts together videos and other learning content that’s designed to be approachable. Alongside a platform designed for medical students and healthcare professionals, the company founded by former Johns Hopkins med school students has drawn an audience of more than 1.4 million subscribers for its widely available animated videos on YouTube.
So it makes sense that when COVID-19 began to spread, they created videos to explain the new disease. It’s now become a package designed to provide public information, debunk myths and educate workers in healthcare.
Given that it’s a new virus and more is being learned all the time, Osmosis Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rishi Desai said the team took a distinct approach. Over the last three months, the team has been updating the videos with fresh knowledge, as well as adding new videos that provide education on general topics like how to clean surfaces, and clinic-specific instruction like how to wear N95 masks correctly.
“Each of these updated videos carries with it key things you have to know, but we also try to address, ‘What are the relevant things that people are hearing about right now in the news cycle?’ and add that squarely in the video,” Desai said.
They’re also putting out social media infographics to get at some of the more nuanced points of the crisis. For instance, they observed in Wuhan, China, that the actions taken to enforce social distancing didn’t have an immediate effect on the number of rising cases. But results started to show two weeks later.
“You can imagine someone with less resolve would say, ‘OK, let’s trying something else. For two long weeks they stuck with it and finally it started trailing off,” Desai said.
It could be especially instructive for the U.S., where actions are being taken by governments even as cases are rising.
“We’ve seen this before. We know this is what happens, so let’s share that through an infographic,” he said.
It also means introducing new terms. Along with flattening the curve, Osmosis also has a video on how to “raise the line,” which goes over the importance of adding capacity in the healthcare system to treat an expected influx of patients through telemedicine and minimizing elective procedures.
Prevent a surge on healthcare systems. Take preventative measures to spread # of cases over a longer period.
Don’t forget to:
✓ Practice social distancing
✓ Wash your hands
✓ Avoid large crowds
✓ Don’t panic
— Osmosis (@OsmosisMed) March 14, 2020
In the realm of answering questions directly, Desai held Ask Me Anything sessions on YouTube that drew global inquiries.
A pediatric infectious disease physician who previously led Khan Academy Medicine, Desai was the fifth employee to join Osmosis. Previously, he worked as an epidemic intelligence officer at the Centers for Disease Control. In that role, he investigated outbreaks and how they spread by donning protective gear to seek out patients who had symptoms and tracing their contact history.
Given the past experience, Technical.ly asked about a prime public health message that folks should hear right now to help. He said the old adage, “Don’t just stand there, do something,” is now turned on its head.
To stop the spread, now it’s “Don’t just do something, stand there,” he said: “The more people keep moving around, keep socializing or going to that one little gathering, it does put everyone at more and more risk.”
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