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Podcasting 101 ... How this technology could benefit your customers

June 1, 2008
Today&rquo;s dental professional understands the impact of technology on patient services and care, practice management, and profitability.

By Lisa Wehr

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Today's dental professional understands the impact of technology on patient services and care, practice management, and profitability. What is common today was unimaginable 30, 20, even 10 years ago. So it's no wonder that when a new, downloadable form of digital communication was introduced a few years ago, the dental profession was one of first to embrace the medium of podcasting.

What is podcasting?

A podcast is a digital broadcast made available on the Internet. Properly executed, they can be personal, timely, informative, and entertaining … and extremely effective for communicators.

Currently, the majority of these broadcasts are audio files. However, with the increased memory and speed of portable playback devices, the popularity of video podcasts (vcasts) is growing rapidly.

The word “podcast” is derived from “pod” as in Apple&rquo;s iPod, the popular portable audio/video player, and “cast” from “broadcast,” meaning “to transmit for general or public use.” Once a podcast is created and posted on the Internet, interested parties can access and download the file onto their computer or any number of devices (including some smartphones, mp3/4 players, iPods, etc.). By transferring the podcast file from a computer onto a portable audio player, consumers can take the show on the road, watching and listening when, where, and just as long as they want.

One of the easiest places to find podcasts online is on podcast directories, an outgrowth of the very popular online music download outlets such as iTunes (now a leading source for a variety of podcasts). Most directories let you search for a podcast by title, company, or topic. Not only can you download specific podcasts, you can also subscribe to future programs from the same source and they'll be sent and automatically downloaded to your computer. Listing a podcast is, in most cases, free to the podcaster and, with the exclusion of some video pay-to-play podcasts (vcasts), subscription services are offered at no cost to the subscriber.

As simple as the process can sound, podcasting is revolutionizing the way companies and/or professions communicate. From the consumer's perspective, it's called time-shifting, the ability to select information and consume it when, where, and how they want. What TIVO has done for television, podcasting is doing online. For the podcaster, there's very little waste, because they're reaching a self-qualified, interested audience when they're most receptive.

What's the big deal about podcasting?

There have been audio and video files available online and/or on your computer for years. So what's the big deal about podcasting? Here are just a few of the advantages they offer:

  • They're personal — Podcasts represent a cost-effective means to make direct, one-on-one contact with individual customers, patients, or other interested parties.
  • They're portable — From their computer, your audience can download a podcast to a portable listening/viewing device, then enjoy it at their leisure – in the car, at the gym, even during their morning run.
  • Available on demand — Listen for a few minutes, come back later where you left off, replay a favorite section and skip another. Whenever you're ready, so is your podcast.
  • Automatically updated — Once you subscribe, the latest podcast from your favorite source is sent to you automatically, usually at no charge.
  • They're trackable — Until recently, podcasters had no easy way of knowing if, when, and from where their podcasts were being downloaded. Without this information, it was difficult to improve outreach and communication to important markets. With the introduction of some new, noninvasive tracking technology, marketers can now get vital information about the listening behavior of their audience. (To find out more about this tracking technology, visit

Podcasting and the dental profession

The dental profession is no stranger to podcasting. As of this writing, iTunes lists 16 different podcast series for and by dental professionals representing more than 100 different episodes. The American Dental Association series addresses widely ranging issues such as hiring and keeping good staff, and marketing to and retaining patients. Dentalcast is a series of more than 50 different interviews with dental professionals regarding the latest techniques and concerns in modern dentistry — everything from hypnosis to trends in dental insurance.

Expect leading individual practices to begin offering their own podcasts to replace generic informational flyers. This builds rapport and an image as service-oriented, cutting-edge practitioners. It can also improve a patient's understanding of everything from office procedures, to exciting new breakthroughs in areas such as cosmetic dentistry, implants, and preventative care. To see more about what launching a podcast entails, visit

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Lisa Wehr is CEO and founder of Oneupweb, an integrated online marketing firm. She has been counseling clients on improving Web site ROI and search engine marketing since 1995. Oneupweb has been an innovator in online marketing for more than a decade, creating integrated online marketing plans that include natural search engine optimization, paid search marketing, podcast production, social media marketing, and usability audits with eye tracking and media placement. To contact her, visit or email [email protected].

Why this Boston dentist is podcasting

Helaine Smith, DMD, FAGD, MBA, who has a practice in Boston, says podcasts are an important part of her marketing efforts.

“In today's world, people are using the Internet to seek information about their dental questions and about dentists,” Dr. Smith said. “Podcasts are a non-invasive way to get my message out. Patients can listen to the information whenever they want.”

Among Dr. Smith's podcast messages are cosmetic dentistry and safe sex and teenagers.

“My podcasts have definitely generated a buzz. It gives me the opportunity to stretch my practice a little more and talk more about subjects I might not get to mention to patients while they're in the office.”

For more information on Dr. Smith and her practice, log on to

Dental Podcast Center

by Henry Schein Dental

Among the podcast options for the dental industry is The Henry Schein Dental, Dental Podcast Center. Professionals can access podcasts presented by leading industry consultants and experts discussing the latest dental trends, clinical techniques, and technologies. Current and future podcasts available through the Dental Podcast Center include practice design, practice marketing, operatory ergonomics, cone beam 3D imaging, laser dentistry, going green, digital radiography, and more.

We asked Henry Schein's Jon Baucom why he felt podcasts were a part of the his company's arsenal. He gave us four reasons.

  1. Allows you to learn about the latest products and services the dental industry has to offer
  2. You can take the podcasts with you to learn what you want, when you want.
  3. Listen to the industry luminaries and their success stories on what works and why
  4. Direct access to links to other dental resources