When 79-year-old Eleanor Day went in for surgery on Tuesday morning to receive a cochlear implant led by Dr. Douglas Backous — her entire procedure was live-tweeted from the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. How social is that?
One member of the hospital's communications team, Drew Symonds, rapidly posted images using the Instagram app — capturing photos in the operating room with an iPhone 4S in one hand and a Droid Bionic in the other, according to Symonds who reached out to us via email.
Hundreds of people in the Twittersphere followed along as Drew documented an extremely detailed look into a simple hearing restoration surgery that included several graphic images uploaded to Instagram.
“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.” Symonds told The Atlantic.
Social media was leveraged by the hospital as a tool to dispel the mystery surrounding cochlear implants as hundreds of Twitter followers interacted with Symonds during the live mobile health event.
“Amazing tech, you can barely see the electrode, thin as a hair.” Symonds wrote next to an Instagram image before the cochlear implant was inserted.
Dr. Backous hopes that Mrs. Day's experience will encourage more people to consider the same kind of hearing restoration surgery — citing that “less than 10 percent of those who qualify for cochlear implants choose to undergo the procedure”, Backous told The Atlantic.
“When @swedish live tweets surgery, it opens an oft misunderstood procedure into a shared emotional public experience, igniting discussion.” One follower @otorhinolarydoc tweeted from Australia during the Swedish event.
The surgical procedure took roughly 30 minutes to complete — and Mrs. Day “will be able to hear for the first time in five years” when the cochlear implant is switched on October 14th. A YouTube video documenting the implant being turned on is already planned.
“Mrs. Day's first words upon waking up soon after: 'I feel like I'm ready to party.' ”