Live Surgical Webcasts

6 Jul ’05

The NYT reports on a fascinating new use for webcast technology – surgical procedures are being webcast, mainly to potential patients to demonstrate the procedures, although there are other uses for the technology, such as continuing education. The technology allows viewers to email questions during the procedures. Quotes:

“About 70 percent of the viewers are consumers,” said Ross Joel, executive vice president for sales and marketing at slp3d.

The Webcasts last an hour or more. They often feature complex operations like heart valve replacements and organ transplants, and they can showcase new medical devices. Some procedures focus on life-threatening conditions, but viewers have also seen surgeons deal with torn rotator cuffs, degenerated knees, varicose veins and excess folds of skin left after gastric bypass surgery for weight loss.

The patients give their permission to be shown in the Webcasts, which still retain their original educational function in most cases. They often include taped segments that have been prepared in cooperation with accredited medical schools. Specialists can serve as hosts and field questions that have been e-mailed during the procedure.

Doctors who log in can take an online quiz at the end to receive continuing education credits. And anyone who has downloaded RealPlayer, a free video software program, is able to log in and send questions without charge.

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