News&Views

August 18, 2006

InfomORcials

Filed under: — mlazoff

From the August 14th issue of Newsweek, Lights! Camera! Incision! describes a free resource offering live and archived instructional operating room procedures, all professionally filmed with narration. OR-Live.com was created 6 years ago for a physician/surgeon market, but according to the article, “In the last year, Webcast viewership has more than doubled from 62,000 to 131,000 per week—and consumers make up 60 percent of the audience.” There are dozens of upcoming live events and hundreds of archived surgeries available, particularly on the newer procedures in cardiology, orthopedics, OB-GYN and pediatrics. Content is broad but selective. For example, a search for “appendectomy” found no videos; “ASD [atrial septal defect] repair” returned three OR-Live videos on the new transcatheter repair of ASDs from two adult and one pediatric hospital; “knee repair” returns 172 hits, most referencing the same videos of total knee replacement surgeries—both full and minimally invasive, and also several cartilage restoration procedures. The site founder describes its funding as PBS-type corporate sponsorship, but the Newsweek article suggests otherwise: the pharmaceutical and medical device companies, some employed or installed during the operations, use surgeons and patients “chosen to showcase optimal results.” 

When I accessed the site, I was unable to identify the source of funding for individual videocasts prior to actually viewing the videocast. The ones I viewed reminded me of educational promotions of hospital staff/resources and medical devices, basic CME fare (though none is offered, so there are no ACCME accreditation safeguards, such as they are); it seems that most hospital-sponsored programs are patient-oriented while most medical device-sponsored programs are directed at physicians. Features include not only narrated video clips but also automated slide shows and user interactivity. Multimedia quality using RealPlayer (the site links to free download) is excellent. OR-Live.com is owned by Internet broadcasting for healthcare company slp3D, Inc whose Web site states, “All slp3D solutions are designed to generate tangible Return on Investment in the form of increased revenue and brand awareness.” Some patients clearly love this kind of patient education and may appreciate a referral to view a particular operation or discussion, but average patients who stumble upon the site without prior knowledge are not likely to identify the promotional bias (especially without the source of funding clearly noted) or place an individual procedure into therapeutic perspective.  



Powered by WordPress