Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Reality SoMe: Live Tweeting Brain Surgery

Reality TV has officially come to the operating room and the health care marketers are going wild:

Doctors will live tweet the brain surgery from Houston's Memorial Hermann hospital beginning at 8:30 a.m. EST Wednesday morning, reports Mashable.

Dr. Dong Kim, the neurosurgeon leading the procedure on the 21-year-old female patient, tells ABC news that the point of the brain surgery Twitter broadcast is to educate patients on what happens during surgery.

“The main reason I wanted to do this was for the educational possibilities. I spend a lot of my time with patients on what to expect and what the steps are,” Kim said. “A lot of anxious patients want to know exactly what happens. With this they will be able to see what happens.”

According to ABC News, Dr. Kim's co-worker will live tweet from the operating room using a laptop, while a video camera will shoot clips of the surgery and a photographer will take shots on a digital camera.


Natalie Camarata, Memorial Hermann's digital marketing manager, told Mashable the plan to live tweet the operation was hatched following the open-heart surgery, which was viewed an estimated 125 million times through Twitter, Storify and media coverage.

It's hard to argue with a stunt that garners such a marketing reach. People love blood and guts. And no doubt Memorial Hermann's lawyers have looked into the legal implications of encroaching on HIPAA's Privacy Rule and it's 18 Personal Health Identifiers. But we have to wonder if the government is sanctioning this media circus at the expense of one 21-year old woman's privacy in Houston, Texas, while simultaneously bitch-slapping doctors who posted their surgical schedule on a publically-available internet calendar.

No doubt this patient gave permission to have this surgery live-tweeted, photographed, videoed and posted online for the world to see, but we have to wonder how this influenced the planned surgical approach when the doctor spoke with her about the procedure. We should wonder how the distractions of the photographers and videographers and social media marketers will have on the surgeon. We should ask ourselves what will happen if things go a little sour. And what about this whole notion of distracted doctoring?  Could brain tumor patients who view this hand-picked surgery be misled about brain surgery's risks in general as a result?

Nah. Never mind. There's bigger, more lucrative efforts that take precedence to patient safety and privacy, right? This is the new world of Reality SoMe! Marketing baby, marketing!

And it's all in the interest of the public's "education," remember?


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