WhatsApp as a tool for surgeons?

I recently described my experiences with two surgical mission trips to Haiti in 2017 & 2018. In an interesting twist during this mission I discovered a tool that you might not normally think of in a surgeon’s toolbox.

We created a WhatsApp group enabling the local surgeons to have immediate access to overseas experts. It was used before, during and after the mission, and it’s still going strong!

With this tool both groups could share photos and discuss cases in a secure forum, and we could get to the people we needed to reach without being slowed down by traditional methods of communication.

My article written about the Haitian experience and the use of this media to support training and global communications has recently been published and you can read it here. Below is a chart showing the wide spectrum of issues that were communicated in this way. In the end, it is often the “one percenters” like this, the things that make it easier for people to focus on what they are really there to do, that enhance outcomes for patients.

While you may find WhatsApp groups like this scattered throughout teams in hospitals, there are many more great opportunities for us to use this sort of technology here at home, for example connecting specialists in our own country with their regional colleagues and GPs, and in the delivery of telemedicine.

I’m looking forward to connecting with a whole new group of local surgeons in Vietnam when I head there at the end of this week. In fact, I just posted some information about the trip to our WhatsApp group!!


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