OMG … What’s a Webinar?


Who says doctors don’t make house calls anymore? While it’s definitely not the same as decades ago when physicians often treated patients at home, there are still a lot of opportunities to learn about diseases and treatments in the comfort and privacy of your own house, office or other location.

Here’s how. You may have heard of the word webinar, but you may not have a clue about what it means.

A webinar is a live online presentation that can be viewed by anyone anywhere as long as he or she has a computer and is registered. The length of each one varies, and the subjects are as numerous as the imagination allows. A webinar usually consists of one or more speakers who use visual aids, such as PowerPoint slides, along with their lectures. Only the presenter is seen, not those who sign up.

What is also unique about these web conferences is the capability for immediate interaction. Participants can ask questions or make comments during the webcast, and the host(s) can provide answers before it ends.

When it comes to learning about different health issues, the sky is the limit. For instance, among the many diverse themes that can be addressed are ankle arthritis, the causes of and treatments for epilepsy and help for children who break bones while they are playing sports.

Another example of a hot health-related webinar topic is diabetes. During an hour-long webinar, an
endocrinologist can talk about how the disease affects the body, who is at risk for developing it, how it can be treated and how it can be prevented.

To take part in any webinar, all you need is a desktop computer or laptop, Internet access and speakers and/or headphones.

Some things to consider if you are thinking about giving webinars a try:
• Make sure that the website offering the online conference is reputable.

• Find out if it is free and, if not, decide if you are willing to pay a fee.

• Check the presenter’s credentials.

• Expect to hear basic information but follow up with your own doctor for specifics about your own condition.

The benefits are many:
• You can hear information from an expert in the health-care field.

• You don’t have to be in the same state, or even in the same country, to be part of a webinar.

• You do not have to dress up to attend.

• You can learn additional facts by hearing the answers to other people’s questions.

• You can usually find a webinar to fit your schedule because starting times and days fluctuate.

If you miss a presentation, sometimes these web seminars are taped and posted on the presenter’s website so that they can be listened to at any time. As you do when you listen to any expert, remember that there are differing points of view on every issue so keep an open mind. Thanks to technology, webinars can be a great way for people to learn valuable information in a very accessible way.

Helene King is a communications coordinator at LifeBridge Health.

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