Health is one of the major topics people research online, and in a crowded marketplace of websites, a Delaware group has established itself as a leader. Generally speaking, health information online can be sketchy, with heavy doses of pseudo-science and grandiose claims. Produced in Wilmington, KidsHealth.org is the most visited website for questions about health and children, and the site applies high scientific standards to all of its entries.
Down the hall from the busy floors of Nemours Alfred I DuPont hospital for Children, a team of producers is busy creating health information and content that’s scientifically sound, and fun.
Pediatricians and psychologists write and review articles, illustrators create images of rashes or broken bones, other employees test the latest app.
Neil Izenberg is a pediatrician and heads this effort — the Nemours Foundation Center for Children’s Health Media.
He says communicating health issues successfully means creating eye-catching content. “People are very sophisticated consumers of media, they are not going to look at your old health videos and be excited, they’ll lose attention in about three seconds.”
It means balancing solid science and solid production values, explains Izenberg.
“We have to tell the story, we have to be visually interesting, when we make a video it has to have good sound,” he said.
The center’s website, kidshealth.org gets close to a million hits a day. It features sections for parents, teens and kids. On the kid’s section, a popular destination is a series called “how the body works.” Young visitors can learn about the ear, the nose, the brain, or the eyes: short videos reminiscent in style of “Sponge Bob Square Pants” explain each body part in detail.
On the teens site, puberty is a hot topic says Izenberg. Also popular are short films that discuss living with different illnesses, such as asthma. Izenberg says these videos emphasize a ‘not so emotional’ perspective.
“We’re not showing a story full of pathos and tragedy, it’s people living with conditions, what it meant to them, and how they can successfully go about their life.”
Izenberg started this effort 20 years ago, producing videos for hospitals. He says the center is now focusing on mobile apps — there’s one called “is it contagious?” to help parents figure out how long to keep a sick kid home.