Doctors at Houston’s Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital made medical and social media history last month by live-tweeting an open heart surgery for the first time ever.
Dr. Michael Macris performed a double-coronary artery bypass on a 57-year-old patient. Meanwhile, colleague Dr. Paresh Patel provided 140-character updates throughout the procedure, and answered questions submitted by followers of the hospital’s @houstonhospital Twitter account. Dr. Macris also wore a video camera attached to his head. Dr. Patel snapped additional photos, and posted some of the pictures and videos to Twitter. The procedure lasted two and a half hours, and the patient made it through fine.
More than anything, though, the feat is a powerful example of social media’s ability to connect people and shed light on even the most unexpected activities. Its success is a lesson in using creativity and digital innovation to educate mass audiences.
“We’re always becoming more connected as a society,” says Gary Kerr, CEO of the non-profit Memorial Hermann Healthcare System’s Northwest Hospital. “Information can’t be contained anymore, and that’s the most positive thing about the Internet.”
Hospital staff expected a modest amount of attention, but were surprised to see the event blow up online. Natalie Camarata, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System’s digital marketing manager, told Mashable the event delivered an estimated 125 million impressions through Twitter, Storify and media coverage in the weeks following the operation.
Since the surgery, Mashable interviewed several of the people involved in the groundbreaking idea, asking them what it means that social media can be leveraged in new, effective ways. We spoke with Dr. Macris, Dr. Patel, Kerr, Camarata and Beth Sartori, a Memorial Hermann marketing and communications executive. What follows is their inside story.
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