i spend a fair bit of time on twitter. not quite a power user, but enough that it’s my regular social media platform of choice.
i just stumbled - actually i think it was via Quora - onto a recent live tweeting of a surgery via a blog post from the friend of the son of the patient involved in the surgery. you can read the post here. it gives a secondhand, yet very direct, account of the reasons why a patient would allow such access to a private medical matter. to put it simply, they were: 1) supporting the hospital, who has supported them. 2) wanting realtime updates about progress for family members. 3) because it made them feel less concerned (you wouldn’t tweet something that had a high risk of going wrong)
and i just keep thinking about what the tweets would have looked like if things had gone wrong. scary.
you can read the all the tweets from the surgery on slideshare.
now reportedly the impetus behind tweeting the event was in the interest of raising health awareness - March being National Kidney Month in the US. i guess this does allow more people access to information - and raise the issue of renal health. it also allows people some insight into the process involved in removing part of a kidney. and it was all done with the consent of the patient, of course.
at the same time though, it’s clearly cross promotional. the Da Vinci robot gets a gurnsey, as does the hospital and the surgeon involved. i’m not particularly concerned about promoting services on social media, but i do wonder about the approach to making this happen (consent and transparency - did it make the surgery free? was there coercion?) and the impact on future patients. not all patients are good candidates for surgery, yet here a successful operation using a particular device is given wide promotion. does this create a demand for unwarranted surgery? or increased expectation about outcomes?
i actually really like the approach, and recall a TV show where a cardiac surgeon was taking questions live - people could tweet in and he would answer their questions.
i wonder if anyone is tracking/analysing/recording data around these sort of twitter events and their impact as health interventions? would be very difficult to measure.
make sure you check out the photo of the surgeon with his twitter handle embroidered onto his scrubs. there’s a market there… or maybe QR codes on scrubs would be easier. :)