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Digital video enhances 21st century communication

Article-Digital video enhances 21st century communication

Dr. Carbonell
Chicago — Newer desktop technology allows physicians to customize video presentations for patients as well as colleagues with ease, making the skill a 21st century imperative for plastic surgeons who want to improve their communication skills, says Antonio Carbonell, M.D.

Dr. Carbonell led a four-hour, hands-on workshop at Plastic Surgery 2005, the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The session introduced plastic surgeons to the process of digital video production and incorporation of video into PowerPoint presentations, staff training sessions and other presentations, as well as patient education videos.

"The technology exists, it's available, it's cheap and (physicians) can learn it," says Dr. Carbonell, who owns a private practice, Crystal Coast Plastic Surgery, Morehead City, N.C.

"Patients demand it because they're used to seeing television shows like 'Extreme Makeover' and other fancy productions on The Discovery Channel," he says. "And as papers and journal articles publish on the Internet more often, physicians also want a video. What will happen is, as I read the details in the paper, I will also want video included. It is not far away."

Total control

Physicians who learn to add video to various presentations also maintain control of the quality and content.

"What gets missed in the process is that surgeons have trouble finding a production company that understands the nuances of surgeries, is comfortable with the operating room and what they see on the screen, and can edit without much input," Dr. Carbonell says.

"Many plastic surgeons are self-starters and would rather do it themselves. We are also very visual and compulsive about details. I like control over the finished product," he adds.

In-house video production also saves time, as physicians can be disappointed in the expense and time needed for outside production firms to complete a project satisfactorily. And, once given an introduction to digital video skills, some physicians also choose to train office staffers to supervise video projects.


Once the skill is learned, physicians can be sure to convey the right message in their videos by individualizing the content according to their current practice, whether the presentation is aimed at patients or staff training.

"Physicians can visualize the finished project while taking pictures," Dr. Carbonell tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. "So if they want to explain a particular segment of an operation, they can take a video clip and fit it into the narrative of a PowerPoint or whatever they use to make the presentation. Physicians know what segments to include and are able to edit them down to 15 or 30 seconds to keep viewer attention."

"As a result, the viewer becomes more informed, and the information is consistent because everyone gets the same information," Dr. Carbonell says.

Easy and affordable

Digital video production no longer involves bulky equipment or labor-intensive editing as it did when it was first available two decades ago, and the costs have been streamlined by thousands of dollars. Also, desktop production programs now provide the high quality that physicians require in their video projects. And digital copies display less degradation over generations than do film and videotape. A program Dr. Carbonell uses most often is the Adobe Premiere Elements 1.0.

"The program offers many of the key features (of) the more advanced version while providing DVD functions and printouts, and retailing for about $99. Digital cameras also sell today for about $300 instead of the $20,000 they sold for 15 years ago," he says.

"I compare it to what the computer did for the typewriter or what the cassette player did for the eight-track," he says.

Dr. Carbonell says the old version of online editing was like a train yard, as engines collected cars in a back-and-forth process and mistakes meant starting over from the first car.

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