The decision to live-tweet a knee surgery wasn’t one that Ohio State University Medical Center took lightly. They debated it, initially leaning towards scrapping the idea. But when they found a minimally invasive procedure and a patient willing to be part of the process, they decided to take the plunge and live-tweet the first ever surgery on Twitter.

As Health Care Communications reports, Ryan Squire, the social media director for the medical center, explains how the idea got the green light:

“We knew this kind of minimally invasive procedure could change’s a person’s life,” Squire says. “The other option would be a total knee replacement. We decided to tweet it, because we thought we could educate referring physicians and patients about it.”

Once the team was on board, it was a matter of deciding how (and what) to tweet. They began planning for the June surgery back in April, and social media took center stage.

The medical center decided that text-based tweets wouldn’t be enough, so they added video coverage of the surgery on U-Stream as well. They tweeted over 100 times before, during and after the surgery, using the hashtag #osumcmako, which received over 600,000 impressions.

The logistics of actually how they live-tweeted the surgery are pretty cool. In addition to the doctor performing the surgery, there was another doctor and three hospital communicators in the room. The second doctor would describe the procedure to the tweeting and video taping communicators, who could ask questions and get information without disturbing the doctor performing the actual surgery.

Outside of the room, there was a communicator sitting with a nurse and the patient’s family, going through the tweets with them. And another personnel was waiting by the phones in case any journalists called about the innovative use of Twitter.

Although this was a surgery, the medical center’s approach to Twitter could offer a few lessons for anyone looking to live-tweet an even themselves.

First, you don’t want to over-do it. The medical center’s focus was first and foremost on the surgery, just like yours should be on the event. The live-tweeting should just be the icing on the cake: it should offer additional information to anyone who isn’t attending, and should act more as an information and marketing tool than anything else. Also, tell the participants in the even that it will be live-tweeted or live video-blogged. There’s nothing worse than springing something like this on someone at the last minute, or having them find out from a friend that their speech was live-tweeted without their knowledge.