This post is part of an ongoing study of emergent social websites, and their role in healthcare professional conversation. To view other posts in the series, please click here.
In the previous articles in this series, we have explored how healthcare professionals (HCPs) use tools like Medium and Quora to extend their social knowledge sharing beyond the 140-character boundaries of Twitter.
As well as this more traditional form of social engagement, there are a number of truly innovative implementations of new channels by healthcare professionals.
One that has caused furore, both in the healthcare world, as well as with the wider public, is that of HCPs, mostly surgeons, taking their surgery global through video and photo live sharing networks like Facebook live, Instagram and Snapchat.
These social trailblazers, generally from the field of cosmetic surgery, have opened up their theatres to tens of thousands of people, all of whom chose to watch plastic surgeons in action.
Dr. Sandra Lee, otherwise known as ‘Dr. Pimple Popper,’ performs blackhead extractions and more to an audience of about 1.6 million on Instagram.
The California-based, board-certified dermatologist has performed thousands of procedures, all documented through Instagram. From an analysis of the comments, many seem to find her work fascinating, while others use the innovative interactive approach to ask questions, relating either to a personal condition or advice regarding the profession of cosmetic surgeon.
Other examples of ‘live’ surgery includes Plastic Surgeon, Matthew Schulman M.D, who uses Snapchat and Instagram to share images and video of a variety of plastic surgery procedures, including those performed under general anaesthesia such as liposuction and hernia repair.
“I was always looking for a way to broadcast my surgeries and get it out there, and interact with patients and future patients,” Schulman, 42, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has his own practice in New York City, told FoxNews.com, in a recent interview.
“I started [using Snapchat] about a year ago.”
Others, such as Michael Salzhauer MD, or Dr Miami as he is better known, a US based plastic surgeon takes things a step further, turning surgery into an entertainment spectacle, dressing up in costume, dancing to music and singing during surgical procedures.
While these videos garner huge media attention, and views in the millions, not everyone is pleased with this latest development. Many physicians claim that the videos distract from the procedure, and can potentially pose a threat to the patient.
“To some degree, there’s an educational component to [these videos] but the intention and the reason that people jumped on the bandwagon is for marketing purposes,” he says. “I think the appeal of these Snapchat accounts is that they’re talking about non-surgical issues, are cracking jokes, wearing sunglasses, or wearing costumes in the [operating room]… I think that these surgeons have gone beyond what’s ethically acceptable in the practice of safe surgery.”
In 2013 the General Medical Council introduced a set of guidelines on how HCPs should conduct themselves on social media; however, with constantly evolving social and technological developments, a further revision will soon be need to keep up with the pace of innovation.
The way we interact has changed beyond recognition over the past decade, and will continue to do so over the one to follow. For those in healthcare, social media and technology provide new and innovative opportunities to educate, engage and learn. However, there will always be a balance between what is possible, and what is best for the patient.
Featured image used under creative commons licence, attributed to Flickr user USarmyafrica