YouTube has committed to expanding the categories of healthcare professionals that it verifies as a reputable source amid concerns pharmacists are currently excluded.

This month the online video platform launched new content features which aim to help highlight health videos from trusted channels, including using a badge on videos from registered health creators.

But the UK scheme has initially only made the features available to registered nurses, doctors and psychologists, sparking frustration among pharmacist YouTubers.

YouTube said the features, which are also open to health organisations, was intended to incorporate ‘a greater diversity of voices’ from ‘an even wider group of healthcare channels across the UK’.

Pharmacist content creators told The Pharmacist that they were disappointed to have been overlooked in the initial roll-out, which went live on 7 September.

However, a YouTube spokesperson confirmed to The Pharmacist today that it would be expanding eligibility to more clinicians in the future.

‘We acknowledge the importance of the multidisciplinary healthcare team in creating high quality health information,’ the spokesperson said.

‘We know there is much more to health than the initial three eligible professions and we look forward to working with many different types of healthcare creators as we expand eligibility in the future.’

The health features are intended to help members of the public find ‘reliable information from licensed healthcare professionals on the platform’, YouTube said in a separate statement this summer.

And it said that videos relating to health conditions were viewed over two billion times in the UK in 2021, highlighting the opportunity for healthcare creators to reach a wide audience of online users.

‘We know that when it comes to healthcare people trust professionals to provide them with the best information. Traditionally however, the opportunity for healthcare professionals to inform and educate their patients has largely stopped at the clinic door,’ the platform said.

Content creator Yasir Sacranie, founder of the MicroPharm YouTube channel, told The Pharmacist that he has been advocating for the inclusion of pharmacists as verified health content creators, and understands that it is on YouTube's agenda for the upcoming year.

Mr Sacranie, a senior lecturer in pharmacy practice and NHS advanced specialist pharmacist, began the MicroPharm channel in 2020 to share bite-sized pharmacy education aimed at healthcare professionals.

But he said that after participating in the YouTube Health Creator Conference in January 2023, he realised the importance of using the channel to reach a broader audience.

‘Pharmacists possess a wealth of knowledge concerning medical conditions and medications, which could be invaluable to the public,’ he noted.

‘Considering there are over 60,000 registered pharmacists in the UK—with all new graduates becoming independent prescribers from 2026 onwards—our role in online healthcare education could be monumental.’

Mr Sacranie’s MicroPharm YouTube channel has amassed over one million views, and is followed by 136,000 people across platforms including YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn, reaching over 10 million annual views in total.

‘This reach underscores the immense potential and transformative power of online healthcare education,’ Mr Sacranie said.

And he commended YouTube’s initiatives to guide users towards trustworthy health information.

‘The rampant spread of medical misinformation online necessitates the verification of credible healthcare professionals on social media platforms,’ Mr Sacranie.

He added that UK pharmacists could add ‘significant value as verified healthcare creators’, given their rigorous training and expertise.

‘I firmly believe that integrating pharmacists as verified healthcare creators could offer a wealth of credible information, thereby aiding in the combat against online misinformation,’ he told The Pharmacist.

Faith Adebimpe, a clinical pharmacist who works with community nursing teams, uses her YouTube channel to showcase her day-to-day work as a pharmacist in the UK.

Her weekly videos reach nearly 2,000 subscribers, and get an average of 300-500 views, although some videos are viewed tens of thousands of times.

She told The Pharmacist that she was ‘not very impressed’ with YouTube’s decision to exclude pharmacists in its initial list of healthcare professions.

Ms Adebimpe added that the profession already felt undervalued – for example by being under-recognised during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And she said that at a time when UK pharmacists were taking on more clinical work, the move by the video platform was ‘not helping the public to have confidence in pharmacists’.

She added that there was an opportunity for YouTube to help reinforce the message that pharmacists are trusted healthcare professionals who are starting to provide even more clinical services to patients.

She said that information shared online could help patients understand where to go, or who to speak to if they needed any more support or advice.

‘I think pharmacists are well equipped to be able to do that,’ Ms Adebimpe said.

Meanwhile, Thorrun Govind, media pharmacist, said that it was ‘disappointing’ to see just doctors, nurses and psychologists included within the initial rollout of the health features.

She added it was important for YouTube to recognise the important role that pharmacists play in the healthcare system, and said that the platform should ‘be answerable, given the amount of misinformation that we're seeing on social media’.

‘We're seeing people sharing information, which is blatantly incorrect, from social media sources,’ said Ms Govind.

‘We've got to make sure that people can access valid, truthful, correct information, which is clearly noticeable that it's from a healthcare professional.’

Ms Govind added that she thought that YouTube had ‘really missed the mark’ by omitting pharmacists from the original list.

And she urged the platform to include pharmacists in its new health features, noting that they are members of multidisciplinary health teams and the third largest healthcare profession.

MicroPharm founder Yasir Sacranie is due to present alongside YouTube Head of Health Vishaal Virani at the Pharmacy Show 2023, focusing on ‘YouTube Health and the Value of Pharmacist Content Creators’, which will spotlight YouTube Health's current initiatives and Mr Sacranie’s journey as a pharmacist turned content creator.