Background: CDC began partnering with WebMD Health Network, including Medscape® (for healthcare providers) and WebMD (for general audience), in November 2009, during the H1N1 pandemic. The goal of this critical public-private partnership is to provide CDC’s authoritative guidance to clinicians through Medscape’s web-based channels and to consumers via WebMD.com. Each week, CDC and Medscape collaborate to present the CDC Expert Commentary Series (videos, slideshows, interviews, in-depth articles) designed to provide relevant and timely information and guidance to Medscape’s audience of engaged physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. The commentary series is marketed on Medscape’s homepage, Medscape topic-specific pages, and throughout CDC.gov, social media platforms, and relevant listservs. Medscape promotes the commentary series through weekly MedPulse email newsletters to over 30 different clinical specialties. Additionally, CDC and WebMD are collaborating to reach consumers through Expert Q&As and WebMD Answers featuring CDC experts.
Program background: During the height of the Ebola response, Medscape collaborated with CDC on 8 Ebola-focused articles to address healthcare professionals’ myriad of questions. To provide a visual “how to” of the CDC guidance for personal protective equipment (PPE) for treating a hospitalized Ebola patient, Medscape worked with CDC to film the first video demonstrating how to don and doff PPE properly. Medscape also provided live web streaming of CDC’s live training event for healthcare worker preparedness in New York City.
Evaluation Methods and Results: CDC’s live training event in New York City reached tens of thousands of healthcare professionals with up-to-date information on preparedness for Ebola in the U.S, including a PPE donning and doffing demonstration. The PPE donning and doffing video was used by the World Health Organization during their training-the-trainers workshop for the Pacific Island Countries in December 2014 and was also posted on the Pan American Health Organization’s website with Spanish subtitles. In total, the Ebola content on Medscape were viewed by more than 168,000 individuals (over 500,000 page views)and have been promoted and utilized for healthcare worker training In the US and internationally. Since the launch of this partnership during the 2009 H1N1 crisis, more than 275 expert commentaries, interviews and slideshows have been posted and accessed over 3.5 million times by Medscape’s audience of healthcare professionals WebMD attracts 74 million unique monthly visitors, and the six CDC Q&A videos from 2014 have been viewed nearly 200,000 times.
Conclusions: This public-private partnership has changed the way CDC communicates with clinicians and consumers and is the model for how CDC can collaborate to leverage resources and strengths to maximize message reach. Developing and maintaining institutional partnerships such as the one between CDC and Medscape/WebMD allows for rapid dissemination of urgent training content during public health crises.
Implications for research and/or practice: Lessons learned from the power of partnering during Ebola confirms the importance of providing timely, trusted information to consumers and the latest guidance, education, and training for clinicians. These lessons can be applied to other comprehensive outreach efforts targeting clinicians and consumers alike -- and will be invaluable for future public health emergencies.