US hospitals are turning to social internet sites to try and connect more directly with the public groups they treat.

Hospitals are now using social networking site Twitter to share operating room experiences, broadcast surgery on YouTube and encourage patients to blog about their treatment, according to a report in The New York Times.

University of Maryland Medical System web strategy director Ed Bennett told the paper that more than 250 hospitals in the US are already using these as inexpensive communication channels.

While the Methodist University Hospital chose to webcast a brain surgery, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit uses Twitter from the operating room.

Economic pressures are forcing hospitals to adopt these means to attract or educate patients, and to attract donors and top medical staff, the paper reported.