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Not your average influencer: M’sian docs share verified, jargon-free health info on IG

On Instagram, it’s quite common to see accounts spreading awareness on various issues through bite-sized infographics that are also aesthetically-pleasing.

Some Malaysian platforms that actively do that include MISI: Solidariti (on social issues), The Simple Sum Malaysia (on financial advice), and some platforms that we’ve covered previously like Undi 18 (on voting rights) and Safe Campus (on sexual harassment).  

Recently, we ran into another one called Docere, which provides bite-sized advice for all things medical-related. It’s run by two Malaysian brothers, Jared and Yu, junior doctors in training who want to create a more health-literate and health-conscious society among Malaysians through verified medical information. 

No healthcare jargon here

“When we were in medical school, we noticed there was a massive information disparity between the healthcare professionals and the public,” the Siow brothers shared with Vulcan Post.

“We felt that this shouldn’t be the case, and were always frustrated with how difficult it was for the public to have access to filtered, easy-to-understand health information.”

The brothers also saw health literacy as something too long-winded and sophisticated at the moment, where people would have to spend a lot of time researching to try and wrap their heads around difficult medical concepts.

So Jared and Yu took advantage of this Instagram bite-sized trend to make health fun, “sexy”, exciting, and most importantly, comprehensible to people outside of medicine. 

On their Instagram, you’ll find posts usually in the pastel pink theme, with a simple question at the start of a thread accompanied by some cute graphics, making it pleasing to the eyes and more approachable especially for those with short attention spans.

Answering doubts the public has about vaccines / Image Credit: Docere

Ideally, Jared and Yu would want their platform to reach people of all walks of life, regardless of their demographic. However, they are aware of their limitations as a predominantly social media-based platform, which they realised is attracting mostly teenagers and young adults. 

“Nevertheless, we do make it a point to reach out to different communities periodically,” they highlighted.

Docere isn’t the first health project that the brothers have worked on; they once ran a virtual workshop with youth from The Kalsom Movement on raising health awareness. 

It spanned over two months, with modules on vaccination, mental health and everyday health, and they plan to organise more similar ones in the future. 

Tackling topics that we may be too shy to speak to anyone about / Image Credit: Docere

The team has never met IRL

Since they started in December 2020, the Docere team of resident doctors and designers have never once met. Jared is currently working in University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) whereas Yu is working in the Hull Royal Infirmary in England. 

The two are currently in the midst of completing their foundation training (a 2-year programme) and have yet to decide where they want to specialise in, but Jared did share with us that he’s very interested in Public Health.

Because work and communications are all done virtually, it’s sometimes tough to collectively stay on the same page, especially in the content creation for Docere.

“This process is usually the most labour-intensive as it requires a lot of research and amendments going back and forth.”

“Having to navigate through the difference in time zones and communicate with Yu can be challenging at times, especially when it is coupled with the erraticness of our medical shifts,” Jared explained, but credits their proactiveness in stepping in when the other can’t to how they’re able to keep the platform running.

Expanding to produce articles too

While their main project is to curate bite-sized content for their platform, Docere also onboards doctors to write articles and publish them weekly. They’re longer than their Instagram content, but are mostly 101s on health. 

The articles actually started out with friends of theirs and friends of friends who were interested in writing, and slowly they were approached by doctors who had heard of their platform and wanted to contribute as well. 

Another initiative outside of social media that Jared was involved in was a podcast by Bersuara 2, a local podcast for students to exchange ideas on a variety of topics. The episode he was involved in was about COVID-19, where he touched on vaccination concerns like side effects, speculations of an annual jab, the low sign-up rate, etc. 

Monetising their content can be tricky

“We actually have not thought about monetising yet, but there’d been some opportunities early on,” they told Vulcan Post. Medical and product companies approached them for sponsored posts, or offered to work closely with them in various campaigns.

“The only reason why we turned them down comes back to the core principle we adhere to at all times at Docere—to provide the public with free and accessible health information through an objective lens.”

Jared and Yu emphasised that accepting these monetising opportunities can be a slippery slope when it comes to health because oftentimes information is shared with an underlying personal agenda, be it for financial gains or more.

“Opinions that are delivered with authority and conviction can sound eerily similar to facts,” they added, and it’s not the approach they want to take with Docere.

Ultimately, the goal that the brothers have for Docere is to get Malaysians to think more through the lens of preventative medicine, whereby health problems can be detected before symptoms arise or worsen. To further educate, they’ll be collaborating with other Instagram pages soon.

  • You can check out Docere’s Instagram here and their website here.
  • You can read more COVID-19 articles we’ve written here.

Featured Image Credit: Jared and Yu Siow, founders of Docere

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