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Live From the OR: Do Patients REALLY Want to Watch Open Heart Surgery?

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

heart surgeryFor some time now, we have championed the benefits of video content as a powerful, and often underutilized, tool in healthcare marketing. No pun intended, but here are two cutting-edge video examples of surgery—direct and graphic from the OR.

Viewer Discretion Advised. These video examples of actual surgery include graphic content.

Online video broadcasts (and replays) of actual surgery are not common, and Swedish Medical Center and Memorial Health Care System have both pioneered new online territory.

Swedish Medical Center: Live Knee Surgery – Last week, for almost six hours, Swedish carried a live webcast of an actual knee surgery. The presentation was narrated by an orthopedic surgeon and provided for Twitter and live chat comments and questions from the public. And for anyone who missed the real-time presentation, Swedish has posted an informative page with video replay on their website.

Memorial Health Care System: Open Heart Surgery – Even more dramatic is the (then live) webcast of surgery late last year to replace a leaking mitrial valve and tricuspid valve and to treat atrial fibrillation. A public awareness effort promoted the live Memorial broadcast in advance, and they subsequently posted replay material online for patient education. Memorial says they are planning more webstreaming procedures.

Individuals who what to dig a bit deeper online will have no trouble finding the ORlive channel. It showcases surgical procedures (presenting both live and replays from a library of previous events) primarily for physicians, surgeons and caregivers. This format includes medical and healthcare sponsors.

It may be too soon to know if the pioneering video presentations were successful as education for the public…or too graphic for many people to get the message. The feedback we get from Swedish about their live knee surgery, however, is largely positive. Melissa Tizon, communications director at Swedish, sent us a few notes.
“For us,” she reports, “it was a great way to make our physicians more accessible to the community, and give members of the public a chance to tap into their expertise and ask questions.” Melissa tells us there were over 4,500 viewers, 2,500 chat participants and 300+ Twitter comments.
And from the public? Here are a few of the comments (as received by Swedish):
* For me this was right up there with watching a shuttle take off (complete with emotions!) Thx again to u, the crew, patient and Physicians.
* Congrats on such an innovative, online event today! Loved tuning in from afar.
* nice to be able to see what you might have to have done.
* I am anxious to see this...I am having total knee replacement 4/4/11
* THANK YOU Swedish for hosting and the ‘willing patient’ for allowing us to see this amazing surgery and sparking an interest in medicine. My 4 children are all watching with complete fascination and are making plans now for a career in surgery.
* Eventually im going to have to have this procedure, the cartilage in both my knees are shot due to weightlifting when i was a teenager
* I hope we'll be able to replay this so I can show my 2 daughters. Thank you, everyone!

Please let us know what you think. Is live surgery informative, helpful to the public or mainly of interest to other hospitals and surgeons?


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