Why Doctors Are Tweeting During Surgery

Hospitals are using Twitter to teach and share information about operations.

ByABC News via GMA logo
April 15, 2009, 9:59 PM

April 16, 2009 — -- Social networking has hit the operating room.

Imagine tweeting about a double-knee replacement in Wisconsin. As you watch, you can send in your questions.

It's no dream; this is a reality as the medical arena makes health care more interactive.

"I think it's a unique opportunity to explore innovative ways to communicate with patients and alleviative fears they may have about joint-replacement surgery," said Dr. Joel Wallskog, an orthopedic surgeon at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee.

Wallskog will conduct a knee-replacement surgery today in Wisconsin when the first health care system in the state gives live updates on a surgery via Twitter . Starting at 8 a.m. CT, nearly anyone who belongs to Twitter can follow Wallskog as he replaces a woman's knee.

But they're not the first in the nation.

By one estimate, more than 100 hospitals have some kind of Twitter account and 82 hospitals have Facebook pages.

Deb Borchert had her uterus removed earlier this month at Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. Little did she know her surgery would become an Internet sensation.

Borchet had no problem when the doctors asked her if it would be all right to use Twitter to communicate with the outside world during the robotic surgery, which is a fairly cutting-edge procedure that is minimally invasive and requires less recovery time than traditional hysterectomy surgery.

"I think that's a great idea, because if there's another woman out there who has that option [of robotic surgery] and it helps her to go this way, that's a great opportunity," Borchert said.