I got a call this morning from Matt Kelley, a reporter for Radio Iowa (one of Learfield’s news networks). He was working on a story involving Twitter and he wanted to check a couple of terms. Here’s the story (minus the audio):
A Cedar Rapids medical center plans to use the social media tool Twitter to broadcast a surgery to the world next week. Doctors at St. Luke’s Hospital will perform a hysterectomy, and other procedures, as people who’re interested follow along via web browser or mobile device. Hospital spokeswoman Sarah Rainey (RAY-nee) says it’s an educational opportunity.
Rainey says, “We have marketing consultants who will be in the operating rooms with the surgeons as the surgery takes place and as the physician communicates exactly what he’s doing, we will have our consultants tweeting, or typing in conversation to bring it to the outside world.” She says two doctors will be performing the operation on a 70-year-old woman using robotic surgery techniques. The play-by-play will be sent out over the micro-blogging service in messages of 140 characters or less.
“He’ll be talking about how the anesthesiologist is now placing the patient under sedation and here’s my first step, so he will be talking as he goes through the procedure,” Rainey says. “You’ll hear him say, ‘Scalpel, please,’ or whatever he may need to instruct the O-R team to help him with.” She expects a wide host of Iowans — and people around the globe — to follow the surgery, starting at 10 AM next Monday.
She says they’re targeting people in the Twitter audience, roughly between the ages of 25 and 45. “We’re looking for people that just might want the opportunity to go into an O-R suite and see what happens without visually seeing all of the stuff that maybe they don’t care to see,” Rainey says. The hospital recently featured a “webcast” of the same type of surgery so anyone in the world could watch it live over their computers.
“With the webcast, you actually got to see everything that was going on in the O-R suite,” Rainey says. “It might be cutting open the patient, it might be a little blood, it might be the suction part, so for some people it might’ve been too much. Tweeting, on the other hand, is communicating through emails and tweets so it’s a little gentler on the eyes.” She says St. Luke’s will be the first Iowa hospital to “Twitter-cast” a surgery. To follow it, go to the hospital’s website “www.stlukescr.org” and click on the Twitter icon.
My friend David insists this is a “gimmick” and nothing more. That nobody would have the slightest interest in following this procedure on Twitter. I’m not as convinced.