The digital operating room

5 ways in which digital solutions can improve productivity and efficiency in the OR


12 min Read | last updated on: Oct 6, 2020
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Businesses worldwide have embraced digital transformation, and the same can be said of the operating room. Digitization should reduce complexity, simplify workflows, and increase efficiency and productivity of the OR staff.

In many hospitals, surgical and interventional services already contribute to more than half of the hospital’s revenue, and this rate is going up.

On this page, you’ll find 5 ways in which digital solutions can improve surgical teams’ productivity and efficiency. From OR preparation to patient turnover.

1. Reducing setup and preparation time 

First of all, efficient use of the OR depends on

  • easy and flexible scheduling of cases
  • the time required for preparation and technology setup

By bringing more technology into the OR, this last one has become more complex and time-consuming. Result? Case start delays, cancellations, and longer patient waiting lists.

Setting up the OR environment for a new patient should be simple and straightforward. A technology like IP-based video integration for the operating room, also called “OR-over-IP”, can reduce complexity and preparation time. OR-over-IP offers a standard architecture, which simplifies installation and reduces setup time.

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2. Enabling efficient decisions and streamlining treatment

An OR that is crammed with equipment doesn’t contribute to a comfortable working environment for the OR staff. A video-over-IP system like Nexxis allows you to reduce the number of cables and devices and to create a much cleaner and comfortable working environment.

Read the full customer story

“The platform is clear and simple, so that we can easily connect and disconnect sources. Only the used sources are visible, which is a clear benefit. Moreover, the image remains exactly the same, with no latency or compression – what you see is what you get.”
Klaas Braat,
IT department, AZ Maastricht (The Netherlands)

OR-over-IP also makes it possible to centralize all information and present it exactly where needed. With Nexxis, content can be positioned flexibly from display to display, from procedure to procedure, and according to the surgeon’s personal preference. It can even be shared remotely.

Read the full customer story

“In the case of an arthroscopy, for example, I have a clear view of the site of the procedure, irrespective of where the arthroscopy cart is. In addition to the live image, I can look at the MRI image on the second monitor.”
- Dr. Peter Müller,
Senior Physician, Trauma Surgery at Augsburg Hospital (Germany)

Ergonomic comfort also pertains to the quality of the images on which surgeons base their decisions. Medical images should be highly accurate, lossless (i.e. uncompressed so none of their original quality is lost), and they should come with minimum latency, so surgeons can maintain perfect hand-eye coordination.

Read the full customer story

“The success of our procedures in the hybrid operating room greatly depends on the flexibility of the system. Nexxis is a very versatile, flexible system that allows us to see, use and switch images on any monitor in the OR, without disruption.”
- Prof. M. de Haan,
interventional radiologist, AZ Maastricht (The Netherlands)

Nexxis makes sure that high-resolution, uncompressed medical images are presented with pixel-perfect precision and with near-zero latency. In addition, Barco’s Full HD and 4K surgical displays make sure that images from endoscopic cameras, room and boom cameras, ultrasound, PACS and patient information, are rendered with razor-sharp precision, allowing surgeons to see details they wouldn’t have seen before.

3D endoscopic surgery is already a reality, especially with more complex cases that require an in-depth view. With Nexxis, the step towards 3D is a small one to take: with a simple software upgrade, already installed encoders can now take in the 3D source and send out a 2D and a 3D video stream on the network. This way, the 3D source can be shown on any surgical display in the OR, regardless whether it’s 2D or 3D.

3. Reducing turnover time

Patient turnover is the time between two consecutive patients. It consists of:

  • cleaning the OR setup of the preceding patient
  • setting it up for the following case

With a technology setup that is too complex, the risk for delayed interventions is higher – a major source of dissatisfaction in the OR . All time lost on technology configuration equals the OR being underutilized.

With a flexible, IP-based video integration system, you can easily switch between configurations and procedures, add or remove devices, and reduce turnover time. There are also less components to set up and worry about: less cables, but also less external converters, extenders or splitters.

4. Reducing installation time and technical maintenance

Maintenance professionals like to schedule ahead. That’s why they value a digital OR that can smoothly evolve over time, along with the needs of the OR staff. With a networked solution based on a standard architecture, cabling can be laid in advance and new sources or devices can be added at any time, so OR upgrades can run quickly with limited disruption.

Nexxis is ready for any new technology (e.g. 4K) as soon as the OR team is. It can integrate practically any signal type through ‘plug and play’. In addition, the system is scalable and flexible, and allows you to adapt as you need to and expand as you grow.

“We cannot purchase an imaging modality for each OR – this would be too expensive as well as ineffective. Therefore, we share those devices between different ORs. Nexxis greatly facilitates this: all you have to do is connect the encoder, integrate it, plug it in with a single cable and it simply starts working.”
Dr. Peter Müller,
Senior Physician, Trauma Surgery at Augsburg Hospital (Germany)

5. Reducing downtime due to equipment problems

Finding the root cause of a technical problem, such as a faulty cable, requires time, knowledge and sometimes expensive measurement equipment. Finding errors faster is a way to reduce the time the OR is not used due to technology problems.

To accomplish that, OR maintenance staff can make use of Barco’s NexxisCare cloud platform, which makes it possible to remotely monitor visual equipment in the OR 24/7. With NexxisCare, OR integrators, service engineers and biomedical engineers can detect issues and schedule maintenance actions proactively.

“NexxisCare is definitely a must-have service. We were able to easily locate three critical fiber issues yesterday and cleared two of them for OR4.”
- Miikka Nordstrom,
Service Engineer, Merivaara (Finland)

OR-over-IP is the future

In an environment where the patient’s stakes are so high and where every minute literally means money, digital technology can help improve the productivity and efficiency of today’s already highly skilled top OR professionals. The OR of today and of the future is one where conditions are created that allow surgeons to do their best work, by delivering highly accurate images, and by providing the most ergonomic working conditions.

But technology continuously evolves and thus, the OR also needs to be easily adaptable and interchangeable to meet future requirements. Its environment must be flexible enough to accommodate the most recent technologies, like 4K imaging, without having to shut down your current infrastructure. IP-based video integration, or the so-called OR-over-IP, is a solution that will support this expansion of technologies well into the future.

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