Blog | Monday, May 26, 2014

Google hangouts on Air - a game changer for CME?

I recently had an opportunity to put together a CME course on Social Media and Web 2.0 in Medicine for the Cleveland Clinic CME department. After the participants had learned about and had a chance to experiment with Twitter and Google+ hands on, we wanted to organize a panel discussion with several social media experts in the healthcare arena. The budget for the CME course would not accommodate travel expenses to get panelists from out of town for a face-to-face discussion. In addition, it would be quite inconvenient to have people travel for a “one-hour” panel discussion. These factors would limit who we could invite to the panel.

So instead of compromising on our panelist selection, we decided to explore options for doing an online panel discussion. Since the course was on the use of social media the natural choice was to do a Google Hangout and broadcast it live on YouTube (Google Hangout on Air). What could be better than using the tools that you are learning about in the course!

The panelists were:
Vineet Arora (@FutureDocs)
Katherine Chretien (@MotherinMed)
Anne Marie Cunningham (@AMCunningham)
Michelle Kraft (@Krafty)

This is the YouTube video of our Hangout on Air. For a first time effort, it worked pretty smoothly. If you think you may want to do one of these yourself, read on.

The process of setting up the Google Hangout on Air the first time can be complex. So I am listing the steps here in case someone else wants to try this out.
• Make sure all the panelists are on Google+ and you have circled each other
• Make sure your YouTube account is linked to your Google account.
• Click Hangout from the menu on the left and click on Start Hangout on Air
• Give the Hangout a name and invite someone to it. This does not have to be the panelists or the audience. I have a couple of different Google+ profiles and I just invite myself to it.
• Now start the Hangout
• Click on agree to any notifications that come up
• Invite your panelists
• This part is still not LIVE. This is called the green room.
• You can talk to panelists, adjust lighting, microphones, go over the logistics etc.
• You can have everyone install the app Hangout tool box and enable the lower third (allows everyone to add their name and tagline or affiliation). This will look mirrored but will appear correctly oriented for the audience.
• From the bottom right grab the YouTube link (this is the URL where the broadcast will appear live on YouTube).
• Share this URL with the audience - either on Google+, in a private community or Twitter or Facebook.
• When they click on the link they will see a YouTube video with the message “Starting soon”.
• Now click on Start broadcast. In about 10 seconds the broadcast will go live. You can start your panel discussion as soon as it goes live.
• The moderator (the person who initiates the Hangout) can control which speaker shows up in the main window by clicking on their profile in the bottom of the hangout window
• The YouTube video shows up after a short delay (about 30 seconds) but then runs quite smoothly.
• Once the discussion is over, stop the broadcast
• You can debrief with the panelists and then end the broadcast.
• Afterwards you can edit the video adjust the title, description etc and then set the privacy settings in your YouTube video manager.

Several course participants were surprised learn about this functionality of Google+. Several wanted to know how they could do this. Our CME department wanted to discuss various uses for this technology both for live courses and for creating enduring material.

Consider the advantages of this technology for CME
1. Cost savings (Travel costs and free technology)
2. Convenience
3. Ability to invite best panelists/speakers without above limitations
4. Feasible to for live audiences both face to face and remote
5. Since YouTube automatically archives the session, you can also embed the videos into online enduring materials.

Google+ Hangouts on Air might just be a game changer for CME. What do you think?

Neil Mehta MBBS, MS, FACP, practices internal medicine at a large tertiary care hospital in Ohio. He is also the Director of Education Technology (Academic Computing) for his medical school and in charge of his hospital system's home grown Learning and Content Management System. He is interested in use of technology in education, social media and networking, practice management and evidence-based medicine tools, personal information and knowledge management. This post originally appeared at Technology in (Medical) Education.