November 27, 2019

The hip bone’s connected to the… which bone? Your surgeon might be turning to YouTube to find out

Thanks to various technologies, doctors are consulting videos and VR more than ever -- but not all patients are comfortable with that.

YouTube is great for lots of things. Cooking tips. Music videos. DIY home repair. But did you know that budding doctors are using it to learn… how to perform surgical procedures?

If that sounds sketchy, that’s because it is

Videos teaching surgical techniques are exploding in popularity, CNBC reports. One recent study unearthed almost 20k YouTube search results for the phrase “prostate surgery” in 2019, compared to ~500 a decade earlier.

But just like those Instagram-friendly recipe videos that often end in culinary disappointment, quality control is practically nonexistent. Even worse: YouTube’s algorithm has an alarming tendency to highlight clips that demonstrate, um, less-than-perfect technique.

A slightly wonky pie dough usually still tastes good. Slightly wonky prostate surgery? We’ll pass.

There are some legit medical videos

Rural hospitals are starting to rely on remote consulting to treat their patients, and some companies include telemedicine as part of the employee benefits.

When it comes to surgery, a startup called Osso VR lets aspiring docs cut their teeth in virtual reality — before they have to carve into human flesh.

But don’t leave us in stitches…

Google, which owns YouTube, has some rules around what’s allowed and what isn’t. People who upload the clips have to use descriptive titles, and the focus must be on education — not, say, shock value.

Medical experts have other ideas to keep patients safe, like using a verification system to highlight verified doctors and procedure videos. 

Blue checks for the blue-scrub set? That sounds a little safer.

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