Social Media and Medicine

By Madison Wilie

Social media is becoming an increasingly utilized tool in the medical community. Ohio State University Medical Center, in 2009, became one of the first hospitals to live-tweet during a surgery. A team of doctors guided the medical centers twitter followers through the process of an advanced partial knee-replacement, using the hashtag #osumcmako. They allowed for people all over the world to sit in on the procedure, explained their techniques, and answered questions from potential future patients and medical students alike.

The benefits to an active social media presence are multifaceted. Like with any brand, generating interest online helps hospitals market themselves. The team of surgeons at Ohio State University Medical Center, during their tweetchat in 2009, were trying to spread awareness of the progressive technologyosumc that they were using.

Tweeting procedures is also a way of providing medical students with an interactive virtual lecture. Students get a more intimate perspective of the operating room and are given a platform for discussion. The performing doctors can answer questions that future doctors pose about surgical practices or explain their processes, passing on their wisdom.

Not only can students ask questions, but guiding the reader through the surgery can also help alleviate the fear of a future patient. Looking up a thread on Twitter detailing a successful surgery similar to the one a patient may undergo has the ability to give a layperson a better understanding of a complex and scary event in their life.

However, live-tweeting is still moderately controversial. The argument can be made that it has the potential to be inappropriate in the case of a complication during the procedure. Every patient that has participated must go through a consent process and most surgeries have been minimally invasive.

In the next few years, it is possible that social media may become a more utilized tool in the medical community.



Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism