Social Media

Tweets and Social App “Vine” Cover Live Surgery in UK

6 Mins read

Very recently in the UK, Spire Bushey Hospital in Watford used Twitter and Vine to tweet and video live surgery in the OR for educational purposes.  Mr Aresh Hashemi-Nejad, an orthopaedic surgeon at Spire Bushey, performed a Periacetabular Osteotomy (PAO), a complex hip operation involving cutting the pelvis around the hip joint and repositioning it to better support the bone.

Very recently in the UK, Spire Bushey Hospital in Watford used Twitter and Vine to tweet and video live surgery in the OR for educational purposes.  Mr Aresh Hashemi-Nejad, an orthopaedic surgeon at Spire Bushey, performed a Periacetabular Osteotomy (PAO), a complex hip operation involving cutting the pelvis around the hip joint and repositioning it to better support the bone.

healthcare social media









The procedure was captured in 13 short videos, photos and regular live tweets.  The OR team helped the ‘tweeter’ by offering clarification and insight into the procedure, ensuring that the surgeon was free from distractions. To view the tweets from the procedure go to

The patient fully consented to the live tweet but wished to remain anonymous.  The procedure went according to plan and Spire Bushey hopes to live tweet more medical procedures in the future.

I interviewed Felicity Knights and Holly Broadway from Merchant Marketing, the healthcare communications agency that provided social media consultancy to Spire Bushey. They were generous enough to give me their thoughts on the experience.  Watch the following video to learn more. (Editor’s note: you will hear the audio, but not see the visual of the interviewer on this video.)

Video Transcription (transcription by TranscriptionStar)

Hello.  I’m Joan Justice from HealthWorks Collective and Social Media today.  I’m here with Felicity Knights and Holly Broadway from the Merchant Marketing group in Southampton, UK.  Felicity was the contact person for the recent live tweet during surgery at Spire Bushey Hospital and Holly was the tweeter in the operating room. 


The hospital used the social app Vine to tweet six second videos live from surgery.  This hasn’t ever been done before in the UK.  Felicity you were the chief organizer for this event, so tell us a little bit about how the idea came about and how it progressed?


Felicity:  We actually had the idea to live tweeting operation about two years ago, but its taken — its quite a while to find the right team, clinical team and hospital team and more importantly consenting patient who understood what we wanted to do and achieve to actually get to the point of execution so then I worked with the Hospital Director and this particular hospital doing, being retained by PR agency nearly five years. 


This is something new, and we felt it off initially just doing an bariatric bypass, a live tweet of that operation she did before Christmas.  That went very well, so the next step was to do a live, another live tweet, but using Vine.  The hospital loved it.  And the hospital director and the management team at Spire Bushey very keen that we can innovate and finding the right consultant and the clinical team was comfortable with what we’re doing and of course the patient was really the turning point for us.


Joan:  Okay and who was the chief promoter at the hospital and how did you get him involved or how did he get you involved?  Was he the instigator here?


Felicity:  Well, we went to them with the idea.  The hospital director and initially we went to with the idea and he was very keen.  Private healthcare has become very competitive in the UK especially because of the changes that are going on in the NHS that’s important for hospital to not just show and the clinical care and what it delivers in statistical information at patients’ satisfaction and cleanliness.


To be able to provide an insight what goes on in the operating theater the skill of the team and show somebody what a surgeon like Mr. [Indiscernible] [0:02:27] can do with his team is really different and very important to the hospital.


Joan:  Great.  You know this is a really major accomplishment and I’m sure it took some time.  Now, what were the obstacles and how did you overcome them?  I imagine there was a privacy concerns or some you had to get some clearance?


Felicity:  Patient confidentiality and the treatment of the patient, and the patient himself comes first above everything.  So the first step was to find a consultant who would be happy and his team he would be happy for us to do this.  Then he had to identify patient.  Now this takes a while.  The patient actually chose to remain anonymous which was absolutely fine.  But we also wanted to take the patients family through what we were doing as well. 


This isn’t just about the individual who is undergoing a procedure because is live and because its social media, and because lots more people will view it we wanted to explain to everybody who was going to be connected with the procedure what is it about what we were trying to achieve, and also back it up with if there was an unforeseen circumstance, we need to make sure we had a plan and we were in control to be able to talk to the patient, talk to the patients family and then talk to the social media audience who were following it.


Joan:  And logistically it seem to work very well.  I saw the Storify episode and I saw the videos and the photos logistically how do you feel it went and how does the hospital feel it went?


Felicity:  Well, and logistically we were very happy.  What happens is yes there’s a huge amount of consent that has to be achieved beforehand and which is a lot of office base work, then there’s a lot that has to be organized with the consultant because procedures do go through a process so we learned what the process was.  We made sure we could say the rights words correctly in the right order and spell them, and then Holly here was in the operating theater herself doing the live tweeting and taking the video combined [Phonetic] [0:04:32].


Holly:  Yeah [Indiscernible] [0:04:34] was absolutely fantastic and he advised the best stages, all the photos and video to be taken.  And I actually sat with him before and looked at the procedure, but also understood it in a way that I could get us across to the general public who didn’t pass the clinical background.


Joan:  Yeah it looked wonderful.  It looked really, really good.  And what did the hospital think the major benefit was?


Felicity:  Spire Bushey is situated in London just outside of London and it competes with a lot of internationally acclaimed hospitals.  For them the major benefit was showing a complex procedure that’s only carried out about two or three hospitals in the UK, but being able to take it to an audience who could learn more and to journalist and opinion formers who can discuss it well, and to really show it also to keep potential patients who might follow and engage more with the hospital.  It opens the door, doesn’t it?  The operating data nothing else really does like that.


Joan:  Right, right.  And so the feedback was good, and are you going to do some more of these?


Felicity:  Very much so.  Live at Bushey and we want to continue tweeting operations and Spire Bushey Hospital is right behind us and what we’re trying to do is line up some of the key consultants and who are themselves sourcing interest in patients who consent and who want to talk.  And as I say the next patient we’re doing a vision air knee replacement which is a bespoke knee replacement made.  The prosthesis is made individually for that patient and that patient is doesn’t wish to stay anonymous and she’s very keen to be able to talk so every live tweet we do, we’re going to add another new element to it.  The next one it’s hoping to be far more from the part of the patient as well as also from the clinicians supporting team.


Joan:  That sounds wonderful.  Felicity and Holly thank you so much for sharing this.  We report a lot on healthcare social media and we congratulate you and Spire Bushey for taking this big step forward.  Thanks.


Felicity:  Thank you very much.


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