The biggest surprise of the day comes from a video on CNN.com showcasing a surgeon and his team tweeting (using Twitter) while performing a risky surgical procedure. In real-time, the surgeon is chronicling the procedure and unexpected challenges, pushing it out to all of Tweet-ville. In the video, it appears that they are using the recently funded Tweetdeck.
I was rather surprised that this story didn’t get picked up on the major blogs for several reasons:
- Doctors are using Twitter! Physicians have been stereotyped as hesitant to adopt bleeding edge technologies, especially in the web space. Health care in general is one of the slowest, least innovative, muli-billion dollar industries out there. We still have tons and tons of paperwork which has amounted to a tremendous amount of waste, preventing millions of people to be able to afford health care coverage. Primary care physicians rarely use e-mail or other web-based technologies because of the exposure to lawsuits and paper trail. Robotic surgery is the perfect use for something like Twitter, because the doctor doesn’t need to be sterile.
- Twitter can be used for instruction! The major benefit of open, web-based technology is the ability for everyone to collaborate on a real-time basis. The power of Twitter lies in the fact that you can use the real-time feed of Twitter with a self-selected follower base, who is interested in learning more. Imagine the power if tens of thousands of physicians gaining more and more knowledge of special techniques and provide feedback to other physicians on innovative procedures or even bedside manner. This open knowledge transfer and the subsequent discussions could be extremely interesting to watch moving forward.
- Privacy issues? Although the patient’s name was not released, some part of me feels a little uneasy about procedures being publicly disclosed. My uneasiness is probably informed because of all the legislation, HIPAA, and outcries of people concerned with any disclosure of their medical history. Many people do not want their electronic medical record (EMR) to be online, yet it is acceptable to have any and all financial information online. I wish the program covered whether the patient approved of the public tweeting of the operation.
I think today’s story on CNN was fascinating because it shows real application of light-weight web-based tools, where as I said in my blog post yesterday, people are the killer application. This is extremely important for those looking to try and grasp what is Twitter and how it’s different than Facebook Status Update.