Social media as a means of empowering patients and eliminating the mystery surrounding cochlear implants -- and the future of transparency?
This morning at 10:00 a.m., 79-year-old Eleanor Day received cochlear implant surgery at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. Joining Day and the medical staff (led by Dr. Douglas Backous) in the operating room was a member of the hospital's communications team, Drew Symonds, who relied on his cell phone and Backous's narration to live-tweet the experience. As is always a relief when the world is watching -- including Mr. Day, who followed the proceedings from the waiting room -- everything went as planned.
Part of the impetus behind the live-tweeting of Mrs. Day's surgery was
that her doctors hoped it would encourage more people to consider
hearing restoration surgery -- according to Backous, less than 10
percent of those who qualify for cochlear implants choose to undergo the
procedure. After all, most people have no way of knowing what happens after the
anesthesia is administered and the patient is rolled into the O.R.
"The response we were getting from people online was exactly what we were going for," Symonds told me. Throughout the procedure, Twitter users weighed in about their own experiences with cochlear implants and were able to interact with people with hearing loss who have not yet received the life-changing surgery.