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Dec 8, 2020

How to prepare your operating room for the future?

HEALTHCARE 4 min read

Operating room technology is changing at a rapid pace. For many hospitals, keeping up with this change is hard, and even more drastic developments can be expected in the next decade. Yet, the groundwork for these changes is being laid today. By adopting an OR-over-IP approach, hospitals will be able to implement many of the upcoming technologies that will shape the complex OR environment of the future more easily.

Many years ago, adding a new technology or imaging modality in the operating room meant connecting devices like endoscopy cameras, computers, scanners and surgical displays through dedicated AV equipment. Today, the operating room is becoming increasingly digitized, allowing multiple devices and imaging systems to be connected over a standard IP network.

With this so-called OR-over-IP approach, surgical data, images and video can be easily shared, stored and displayed on any screen in- or outside the operating room. Integration over IP also makes it possible to centrally manage the multitude of imaging systems and devices and to make the OR workflow much more streamlined.

A future-proof OR

The digital OR is no longer a ‘nice to have’. In fact, the OR-over-IP approach will be the necessary foundation for the adoption of a lot of innovative technologies, some of which have already reached the OR today, and some of which will probably enter the OR on a larger scale in the future.

  • 4K imaging allows surgeons to clearly see inside a patient and perform surgery with the highest precision.
  • 3D imaging improves the visibility of the patient’s anatomy, and enhance surgical efficiency and accuracy in laparoscopic procedures with shorter operating times.
  • Virtual and augmented reality will be used to train surgeons and clinicians, and help them to acquire proficiency in complicated technologies much faster.
  • Artificial intelligence will be able to help to establish diagnosis while the patient is still on the operating table, to guide surgery and support later treatment.

Digital operating room

The digital OR offers flexibility

In the past decade, many companies and organizations ramped up their digital efforts in order to overhaul their business processes and improve the customer experience. The same can be said of OR. Just like in the business world, the OR is not becoming digital for digitization’s sake, but rather to reduce complexity, simplify workflows, and increase efficiency and productivity.

In that sense, the OR-over-IP approach is already bearing fruit today, for the OR staff of a growing number of hospitals worldwide.

  • Reducing setup and turnover time: The productivity of surgical teams and the efficient use of the OR depends on easy and flexible scheduling of cases and on the time required for their preparation and technology setup. However, by bringing more technology into the OR, the setup and configuration before surgeries have become increasingly complex and time-consuming. Because it offers a standard architecture, the OR-over-IP approach simplifies installation and reduces set-up time in the OR.
  • Streamlining treatment: An OR that is crammed with equipment – navigation devices, machine-controlled applications, PACS equipment, significantly contributes to the stress levels of the OR staff. By running the OR technology over IP, the number of cables and devices can be reduced, which allows for a much cleaner and comfortable working environment, in which surgeons can make quick and accurate decisions.
  • Reducing downtime due to technical maintenance: With an increasing number of devices and cables, the OR risks becoming a complex hodgepodge of technology that is hard to maintain. Time spent on technical maintenance cannot be used for surgery. An IP-based OR platform can make the job of maintenance personnel a lot easier. By using unified fiber cabling that connects directly to the devices, cable clutter can be reduced and errors during maintenance can be avoided.

Flexibility today and tomorrow

Technology continuously evolves and therefore, the OR needs to be easily adaptable  to meet future requirements. Its environment must be flexible enough to accommodate the most recent technologies, such as 4K and 3D imaging. IP-based video integration, or the so-called OR-over-IP, is an approach that will support this expansion of technologies well into the future.

But the OR-over-IP already bears fruit today. In an environment where the patient’s stakes are so high and where every minute 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.