An Instagram from Eleanor Day’s surgery last Tuesday. Swedish Medical Center provided live coverage via social media for the entire surgery.

Live tweeting from events isn’t new. You’ve probably seen it happen on your Twitter feed from sporting events, political debates and tech shows, just to name a few.

But here’s something relatively novel: live updates from the surgery room.

Last week, 79-year-old Eleanor Day underwent the first-ever live-tweeted, live-Instagrammed — are these words in the English dictionary yet? — cochlear implant surgery at Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center.

Next up: On Wednesday, Oct. 10, Swedish will live stream Mrs. Day’s cochlear implant activation at 8:30 a.m. PT with accompanying narration and live chat.

The social media engagement doesn’t stop there. Swedish will host two live, text-based chats at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. with doctors, an audiologist, a representative from the Hearing Loss Association and Mr. and Mrs. Day. Users will be see recorded footage of the surgery and ask questions via a chat box.

Day will be potentially able to hear without the help of hearing aids for the first time in five years.

This isn’t the first time Swedish has utilized the power of social media engagement. They’ve live-tweeted and live-streamed deep brain stimulations and knee surgeries.

Dana Lewis, the Swedish digital media and eHealth Strategist, outlines in a blog post why the medical center is covering an operation like this in the first place:

“We’re learning from our patients how hard it is to access information if you are deaf or have hearing loss, and, per a study in The Lancet, how this impacts the quality of healthcare. And so we decided to create additional resources to help raise awareness about the option of cochlear implants. People with hearing loss are not able to call on the phone to get more information or ask questions, so we decided to document via text (tweets) and images (Instagram photos) the cochlear implant procedure.”

Luckily for those sensitive to graphic images or for us trying to eat our lunch, Swedish warns viewers if something is a little graphic, like this.

Houston’s Memorial Hermann hospital did something similar earlier this year. Both an open heart surgery and a brain surgery were live-tweeted and raised overall awareness.

This engagement is pretty cool and could very well become a regularity soon. But is it possible to take social media too far?

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  • daryn

    back in the 90s there was a live surgery video website (I think it was run by a local seattle streaming pioneer a.k.a porn company.

    • ewe


      • 32


  • Pieter

    Warning! I did not see an alert and was immediately presented with a graphic image of the surgery. If you are sensitive to such images then you may not want to click on that link. Other than that, pretty cool stuff.

  • ItsYourLiverLiveonYouTube!

    “Is it possible to take social media too far?”

    Yes, this would be too far. How does this help my surgery? All I see here is:
    – Whiz bang marketing for the hospital (that I as a patient am not being paid for my part in)
    – An extra set of complications in surgery (“Sorry, your Instagram camera is blocking my defibrillator”)
    – Personal privacy issues (“Oh look, I see they’re giving Bob medicine XYZ. Typically that’s used for patients with compromised immune systems, I wonder if he’s HIV+”)
    – Being the subject of a nightmarish social media viral phenomenon (“Share the grossest med picture of the day!”)

    It’s bad enough the medical establishment regularly treats patients as objects or guinea pigs. But now to have that inhumane treatment extended so that we’re subject to it from their marketing departments is truly horrible. And what happens when they decide that your surgery consent form has to include stuff like this? “Well, if you’re not willing to have your surgery on YouTube you’ll have to go to another hospital.”

    If this is what passes for medical “ethics” these days no wonder people have such a dim view of care in this country.

  • Sally James

    Readers may like to know that Dana hosts a national chat every Sunday eve on Twitter at #hcsm about health care social media – ethics, policies, methods. She’s a thought leader on a national stage.

  • Emily

    What in the world? tummy tuck prices des moines

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