What Diabetes Education Can Learn From YouTube

YouTube is transforming education at scale. Can diabetes education programs replicate the success created by YouTube educational channels?


Diabetes Self-Management Education Programs (DSME) have been clinically proven to significantly improve health outcomes. But none of this matters if people refuse to participate in the programs offered.

“Sometimes nobody shows up.”

This was a powerful statement made by a Certified Diabetes Educator at this year’s National AADE Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. She was speaking in regards to the DSME classes her organization offers patients. While she still sees patients for 1-on-1 meetings, getting patients to attend the full set of DSME classes has been difficult.

The American Diabetes Association and the CDC support her experience. Research done by the CDC stated that less than 60% of people diagnosed with diabetes attend a DSME class. At the 2017 Scientific Sessions, research showed that only 5% of those people completed the whole program.

So do people just not want to spend their free time learning something new? Are they just not interested in diabetes? Or does it have to do with the delivery of the education? To answer this question lets take a look at a platform that has mastered successful education at scale. That platform is YouTube.

Founded only 13 years ago, YouTube has reached 1.5 BILLION monthly active users. 1 BILLION hours of YouTube are watched every day. (Socialmediatoday.com)

When it comes to education, there are some amazing YouTube channels that have mastered the formula for high engagement at scale.

Lets a take look!

Top (Left to Right): TED-Ed, InaNutShell | Bottom (Left to Right): Asap Science, Crash Course

The four channels we are reviewing today include:

  • TED-Ed | 7.4 Million Subscribers
  • In a Nutshell | 6.9 Million Subscribers
  • Asap Science | 8.1 Million Subscribers
  • Crash Course | 8.1 Million Subscribers

What principles do these organizations follow to reach 5–15 million views on a health education video? The first thing to point out is that the education is video-based, but in today’s world, that is so obvious that we will skip that key point.

We have identified three key trends.

  • These channels leverage industry experts and validated research studies to produce their video scripts.
  • These channels leverage bite-sized content to deliver a powerful message in a short amount of time.
  • These channels use graphics and animations to make the content more entertaining.

How does that compare to the current diabetes education protocol in healthcare? Well, most of the education goes in the trash can.

We live in a new world. Companies like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu can teach us a lot about this world. Specifically how consumers enjoy engaging with content.

Diabetes Self-Management Education organizations have a huge advantage over the streaming companies mentioned above.


These organizations have trained professionals that can hold patients accountable to expand on the foundational education based on an individual’s unique needs.

Asking busy adults to attend a class across town is out of date and not effective. At the end of the day, the patient is a consumer. If we want to practice patient-first thinking, we must practice consumer-first thinking. Based on the engagement data, consumers LOVE companies like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu.

If diabetes self-management education programs want to have a real impact on the growing number of people with diabetes, they must begin to change the way they engage the end-user. DSME programs must begin to leverage proven tactics from YouTube like bite-sized, animated videos from industry experts.

Interested in bringing this kind of innovation to your DSME program? Check out KingFit’s website.

You can contact me (Miguel, Founder & CEO) at Miguel.johns@kingfit.io or by text at 316–288–3692.

Thank you for reading!