GroundFloor Media & CenterTable Blog

Where do you draw the line with social media? No Twitter or Facebook after work? No LinkedIn while still in bed in the morning?

I recently found my “line” while getting married and going on our honeymoon. Aside from a few Facebook and Twitter updates during the wedding weekend and honeymoon, I left my phone in the hotel and tried as hard as possible to focus on everything and everyone around us. It was a break from my online world that was very much needed, yet extremely difficult. Many times I found myself digging for my iPhone in my purse to check Twitter only to laugh at myself because I had just left it in the room minutes earlier.

What about social media while under the knife? As long as my hospital gown covered all the important places, I would not balk at doctors sharing educational information that could help medical students and future patients. And I’m not alone. One patient in Ohio apparently felt the same way while preparing to have a new kind of knee surgery.

“Live tweeting during surgery: lessons from a successful debut,” offers an interesting overview of this next phase of social media for the health care industry. Doctors, via three hospital communications employees, relayed tweets as the procedure progressed. UStream was also used to offer followers a live feed of the surgery.

There are certainly a lot of privacy and legal issues to research and follow but by tapping into the hospital’s legal counsel early, the staff was able to plan for emergency scenarios – including stopping the UStream feed if needed – and have the contingency plans pre-approved by hospital counsel.

In the end, Ohio State University Medical Center weighed the pros and cons of this very public approach and recognized the tremendous opportunity that existed for bringing new research, technologies, the doctors’ expertise and a first-person patient account to life in a new way. The organization is certainly not the first in the health care industry to think outside the box when it comes to using social media—in February my colleague Kimmie Greene blogged about work The Fearey Group in Seattle was doing for Swedish Medical Center using Twitter.

Do you think live-streaming content will become mainstream among health care providers? Would you be willing to have your surgical procedure chronicled and broadcast across the Web while under the knife?


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