A doctor at the London Independent Hospital recorded a routine hernia repair surgery with a pair of Snapchat Spectacles — a new pair of sunglasses outfitted with a camera that records 10-second clips that can be uploaded to the social media app.
For an hour, Dr. Shafi Ahmed shared clips of the operation on his Snapchat account and put together a tutorial for medical students.
“I’ve always thought about the way we teach,” Ahmed told TIME. “How do you use these wearables in the clinical workspace for practice and also education purposes?”
In April, Dr. Ahmed used a 360-degree camera to record a tumor removal from a patient’s colon. This recording became the first virtual reality medical film.
Dr. Ahmed’s goal is to find new teaching tools that push boundaries and reach more people. Snapchat, he believes, is exactly the kind of platform that can help him do so.
“The Snapchat platform is really interesting because it mimics who we are,” he says. “It thinks on a 24-hour, short-term basis, and we, as individuals, work in short-term basis. We see things, we forget about them. Some goes into our long-term memory, but most of it, 95 percent of it, is all short-term.”
On December 9, Dr. Ahmed wore the Snapchat Spectacles while operating on his patient. An assistant regularly pressed the record button on the sunglasses and uploaded the clips to Dr. Ahmed’s Snapchat account. Between 150 to 200 medical students watched the procedure as it was happening on Snapchat. Many more students watched the tutorial within the following 24 hours.
“The response was really good,” Ahmed told TIME. “They [the students] liked the way it was structured. They thought the segments work quite well…all the boring bits of the operation that may not have educational value for students.”
Dr. Ahmed plans to publish the results of his Snapchat experiment. He also plans to continue to use the Snapchat Spectacles during surgeries to create tutorials for medical students.
“As individuals, as a surgeon in my case, we have a certain knowledge base that we want to share with as many people around as possible,” he said.
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.