YouTube begins verifying videos by UK doctors to tackle health misinformation

UK-based users accounted for more than two billion video views of clips on health conditions in 2021.

Rachel Lang
Friday 08 September 2023 07:04 BST
Doctors can now be verified on YouTube. (Lynne Cameron/PA).
Doctors can now be verified on YouTube. (Lynne Cameron/PA).

YouTube has launched a verification system for UK-based doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to help Britons dodge medical misinformation online.

UK-based users accounted for more than two billion video views of clips on health conditions in 2021.

YouTube added a new seal of approval to accounts run by licensed doctors, nurses, psychologists, and other health practitioners or organisations who have passed stringent verification checks to fight misinformation.

YouTube head of UK health Dr Vishaal Virani said the move to verified health videos for UK users was crucial due to the number of Brits accessing healthcare information through the video-sharing platform.

Dr Virani told the BBC: “Whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not, whether the health industry is pushing for it or not, people are accessing health information online.

We all know how difficult it can be to differentiate between healthcare information from trusted and reliable sources and content which is inaccurate or doubtful provenance

Professor Dame Helen Stokes-Lampard

“We need to do as good a job as possible to bring rigour to the content that they are subsequently consuming when they do start their care journey online.”

The verification system began accepting applications from UK-based healthcare professionals to those with an active medical licence in June.

Accounts that applied to the verification scheme are now starting to receive their YouTube mark of authenticity on their videos, to make it as easy as possible users to know if the information has come from a qualified healthcare professional.

Potential health creators submitting their accounts have to go through a rigorous, multi-stepped verification process that works in partnership with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the NHS.

Health creators also have their past videos scrutinised and do not receive verification if previous videos uploaded to YouTube have contained any medical misinformation.

Chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Professor Dame Helen Stokes-Lampard said the partnership with YouTube had resulted in a positive solution for all.

Dame Helen said in a statement: “We all know how difficult it can be to differentiate between healthcare information from trusted and reliable sources and content which is inaccurate or doubtful provenance.

“I am pleased to say we have been able to draw on our own expertise and that of organisations from across the UK healthcare landscape to produce an easy-to-apply set of principles which will ultimately benefit everyone who turns to YouTube seeking trustworthy health information.”

YouTuber and doctor Simi Adedeji has already received her YouTube tick of approval.

But Dr Adedeji told the BBC that her videos, which primarily focus on skin health and women’s health, are not to be used in lieu of making an appointment with a medical professional for real-life advice.

Dr Adedeji said: “There’s a difference between giving medical education, which is what we’re doing, and giving medical advice, which we don’t do.

“It’s about giving medical information so that the audience feels empowered and can then go and see their doctor.”

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