Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Implications for Live Tweeting Surgery

Yesterday Robert Hendrick, health care disruptor (I mean that in a positive way) and co-founder of change:healthcare, live tweeted his laser ablation surgery at the Surgical Clinic in Nashville. He also tweeted the first installment of his surgery to remove his varicose veins -- Live from the Operating Room.

Robert and his counterpart, Christopher Parks, are all about transparency in health care, especially as it relates to payment issues. This serves as just one more example of their efforts to engage health consumers and create transparency in health care.

Robert's live tweeting during surgery struck me as an interesting application of Twitter and other mobile social networking application. Here are just a few thoughts:
  • A way to keep friends and family updated on your condition, surgery, etc.
  • Useful for others who might be contemplating a particular procedure or surgery to get a real time look at what might be involved. I know someone who is contemplating undergoing the same procedure and plan to share Robert's posts with them.
  • As more and more patients and providers start to document information via social networking avenues - what might this mean during future litigation and discovery? Certainly seeking tweets, historical Facebook updates, etc. might be valuable in either pursuing or defending litigation. What are the rules for lawyers in pursuing such evidence? What might this mean for the companies providing such services as they see more and more subpoenas for information?
For a real time look at surgery tweets check out Twitter Search for the term -- surgery. Interesting stuff. I welcome others thoughts on the topic.

Thanks Robert for making my day for awarding me "best tweet of the procedure." Follow Robert on Twitter at @Robert_Hendrick.

UPDATE (1/18/09): More discussion on live tweeting surgery. This time it is from the provider side and not just the patient tweeting away their surgery. Henry Ford Health System live tweeted a surgical procedure in Detroit to a group of medical professionals at a conference in Las Vegas.

Shel Israel at Global Neighborhood has a great summary/interview with background on the event that will be part of his upcoming book, Twitterville. Bertalan Mesko has provides coverage about the Live Tweeting Surgery at at ScienceRoll. To find all the tweets about the surgery search via Twitter Search for the tag: #twOR.

After seeing the post by Shel I reached out to him and told him this wasn't the first live tweeted surgery. However, it was the first tweeted "from the provider side" -- @HenryFordNews.@Robert_Hendrick still gets the 1st award from the patient side.

UPDATE (1/29/09): Noticed in my Twitter stream today that Rick Sanchez of CNN is live tweeting his knee/meniscus surgery. Another live tweeting patient. In this case, high profile reporter from CNN. Follow Mr. Sanchez's twitter stream at @ricksanchezcnn.

UPDATE (2/17/09): Elizabeth Cohen of CNN (@elizcohenCNN)covers the live tweeting of surgical procedures by hospitals in the article, Surgeons send 'tweets' from operating room. Included with the article is a video detailing the live twittering at Henry Ford Health Systems. You can also follow the tweet stream of the surgery tagged via Twitter as: #hfhor.

UPDATE (5/26/09): mobilehealthnews provides a historic timeline of the most notable examples of live tweeting surgery in a post, Twitter surgery timeline: 8 months of OR Tweets.


Rachelle said...

Interesting post Bob. Someone asked me the point of tweeting everything you do and a co-worker said well, I knew she was out of town and not coming to an event we had. Co-workers who are twitter could then recall that I had this dental procedure this morning.
Consumers can ask who my dentist is and if I like him. Was the procedure painful? Lengthy? Etc. Again, just another way to continue the conversation -- with several people and more immediately than email.

Anonymous said...

Great information and how exciting! Tweeting surgeries could also be used as an excellent teaching platform for students and other surgeons. A little PR for yourself and your hospital doesn't hurt either! If you love Health 2.0 and tweeting surgeries why not tweet/DM your graft requests as well?
Give Graft Finder a Tweet we are Tissue 2.0!