4 Things to Look Out for When Using Unvetted Videos

We got to speak with a group of EMS educators about their experiences using unvetted patient videos in their classrooms. Here are 4 pieces of advice they had to offer.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what's the value of a video? Many educators believe that video is a powerful tool, pairing audio and visual stimulation to create a more visceral experience for their students. It can engage students with various learning styles and may even help them develop more profound empathy for their future patients. 

But, not all videos, or video sources, are equal. While unvetted video sources, such as YouTube, can provide a wide range of healthcare-related content, they also come with some drawbacks. We recently spoke with a group of EMS educators, who shared their experiences using unvetted videos in their classrooms.

The videos may not be HIPAA compliant

Setting a good example for your students about following HIPAA guidelines from the start is essential. Unfortunately, there often isn't a way to confirm if the creator obtained proper consent from a patient in a YouTube video. Most video content platforms weren't designed with HIPAA compliance in mind, so there aren't any requirements to secure permission before posting patient videos.

Outdated or inappropriate practices

The fact that anyone can publish a video on YouTube is a double-edged sword. It empowers everyday people to create content they feel will be valuable to their audiences. But it also means they may not be qualified experts in that field, and there's no process of ensuring the content is peer-reviewed. This lack of peer review can lead to questionable levels of accuracy, validity, and reliability of the content being presented.

Many educators we spoke with said that when they'd used videos from unvetted sources, they found they had to do a lot of work to vet the video content themselves. With thousands of medical videos out there, it can take a lot of time to find videos that not only have the topics you want to present but also illustrate up-to-date and appropriate practices.

Lack of context

Video content sites specialize in one thing: videos. And, while we're all about the value of video, we know that it's only one piece of the puzzle. Patient videos are richer when combined with additional information, like patient history, vitals, and demographics.

Because most of the videos found online lack this context, the educators we spoke with noted that they had to take time to create this supplementary content themselves to provide their students with a deeper learning experience.


Sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and TikTok were created to entertain rather than educate. The content they offer isn't focused on a single topic, and you have no way of preventing your students from going down a rabbit hole of irrelevant, or even contrary, content once they're on the site. The algorithms these sites use to suggest further viewing are designed to promote content based on popularity rather than educational value. Between the many ads and the questionable recommendations, it's easy to see why some educators we spoke with were hesitant to send their students to these sites.

So, how is ReelDx different from an unvetted video site?

ReelDx certainly isn't a panacea that will magically turn your students into rockstar practitioners. While video is a powerful educational tool, it's not a replacement for the hands-on experience gained in a clinical setting. But high-quality real patient videos can get students exposure to patient encounters before they enter the clinic, and supplement their learning after they do start their rotations. And we've taken steps to ensure that our real patient video cases meet high-quality standards that educators are looking for:

  • All ReelDx videos are HIPAA compliant: our technical and legal requirements, combined with our case-acquisition and management processes, ensure HIPAA compliance.
  • All cases are peer-reviewed: they're reviewed by a member of our ReelDx Faculty team before publishing, then get reviewed again every two years to ensure that the information presented in the case is still accurate & relevant.
  • More than just videos: our cases include additional information to provide valuable content, such as vitals & demographics, patient history, actual outcomes, supporting media, recommended reading & editorial content.
  • Control over the content: students only see the cases, and content within the case, that their instructor wants them to see. You have total control of the flow of information to keep your students focused on the topic at hand.

We'd love to let you see first hand the difference that using vetted patient videos can make. Click below to start your free trial access to ReelDx.

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Lisa Rezendez