We knew it. The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that live gory docudramas, broadcasted to unwashed and uninsured, is a capitalist tool:
Live Internet broadcasts of surgeries are beginning to make medicine more accessible to thousands of patients — and are becoming a potent marketing and educational tool for hospitals and doctors.
“It’s more powerful than a phone call or an article,” said Dr. Randall Wolf, a cardiothoracic surgeon and director of the Center for Surgical Innovation at the University of Cincinnati.
University Hospital and UC Surgeons Inc. spent more than $140,000 in 2004 with Connecticut-based medical broadcasting company SLP3D to broadcast on the Web four unique, minimally invasive procedures used to treat lung cancer, obesity, liver tumors and the irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.
The trend builds on what for years was simply a teaching tool: Surgeons and other health care professionals watched new procedures from theater-style observation areas high above an operating room.
Today the view is much closer, presented as the surgeon sees it through an endoscope, with close-up shots and a documentary style. Anyone with computer access has a front-row seat — and the ability to e-mail real-time questions like the one Gary Gibson sent on Nov. 16, during the session Wolf did on atrial fibrillation (AF).
He wrote, “Suffer intermittent AF. In AF now. Last time in AF 18 Mo. Had cardiac ablation in 1992. Had angioplasty 4 times. Amiodarone no longer seems to work.”
Gibson, 62, wanted to see if he was a candidate for Wolf’s AF treatment. He’d heard about the webcast on the radio and was dissatisfied with his current treatment, known as the minimaze procedure.
“I had no idea that procedure existed,” Gibson said recently while working at his Tri-State Sterling heavy truck dealership in Sharonville. Gibson figured he was stuck on medication, which he said wasn’t helping.
“When you go into a-fib it feels like you lose half your horsepower,” Gibson said. “I was approaching congestive heart failure. I was really headed for trouble.”
He received a reply to his e-mail and later met with Wolf. Gibson’s surgery was Jan. 3, and he’s now back on the golf course, feeling good and strong.