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Live Tweeting and Instagramming a Medical Procedure

In this Web 2.0 world the use of social media in the healthcare community is changing with each passing day.  Physicians, RN’s, and patients are using social media to  connect and communicating through different social platforms that are making some of the most web savvy individuals blush in amazement.

How would you feel if for the last 20 years you had been losing your hearing and the last five of those years you were completely deaf.  You could regain your sense of hearing with a cochlear implant, but the surgical procedure was going to be live-tweeted and Instagrammed for all to see?  If this idea seems completely farfetched, think again.  On October 2nd, 2012 the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, WA had Eleanor Day scheduled for a cochlear implant to be put in.  The thing that makes Mrs. Day’s procedure unique was the fact that the entire medical procedure was going to be documented via Twitter and Instagram for the world to see and follow.

Now, the documentation of the procedure wasn’t being done just for kicks and fancy ironic images.  Information about cochlear implants is far and few between.  So for educational purposes and to raise awareness of the procedure the Swedish Medical staff and Day family had agreed to document it via the social media outlets Twitter and Instagram.

Just like most things on the social media platform Twitter, the procedure had its own hashtag (#SwedishHear) for the world to follow along with.  Live tweeting the cochlear implant procedure was Digital Media & eHealth Strategist Dana Lewis who is also the founder of the healthcare social media (#hcsm) weekly hashtag chat.  According to Lewis, this wasn’t the first time Swedish Medical had live tweeted a procedure, but it was the first time a procedure had been Instagrammed.

Looking through SwedishHear hashtag the support and wonderment from viewers around the world was amazing.  RN’s, news publications, and interested Twitter followers each chimed in and offered their gratitude to the Swedish Medical staff and the Day family for their participation in the awareness raising procedure.  If you’re interested in Instagrammed pictures from the procedure or tweets from around the world, you can search for the hashtag or go directly to the blog post Dana Lewis wrote about the entire event.

What are your thoughts on live tweeting and Instagramming a medical procedure?  Is an event like this in bad taste or is there something to be learned from live documenting this procedure?  Is awareness for cochlear implants actually being raised or is this just a spectacle and circus like event for a normal medical procedure?  Let us know what you think. Leave a comment below, send us a message on Twitter @MDWebPro, let us know on Facebook, or on Google +.  We’d love to hear from you!

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Stuart Wainstock is a former educator who has taught overseas and in the United States. Stuart began blogging while living overseas as a means to communicate with family and friends back home. He is a contributing author to the MDWebPro blog. Stuart is an avid follower of technology, and their constantly changing trends. He also enjoys discovering new and excited music, as well as photography. You can follow Stuart on Twitter @stuartwainstock,@MDWebPro and Google+

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