Intelligence (noun) – “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”

Yes, intelligence is a term previously only associated with the homo sapiens…and the evolved ones at that. Did we think that intelligence would now reside with ‘things’? Inanimate objects today are redefining the concept of intelligence and pushing it to the next frontier. And yes, we have to thank technology for that.

It wasn’t until a while back that surgeons were considered the most intelligent beings on the planet. They evoked a certain reverence owing to their intelligence, acumen and venerable skill set. Today, while the surgeons remain on top of the intelligence list, there is intelligence being created in the hospital environment as well. And the operation theater (OT) is one such place.

So, what makes the OT intelligent? The answer lies with Smart technologies and the interconnectedness they so capably build.

Operation Theater Management

Operating rooms have some of the highest concentration of devices in the entire hospital environment. They also are energy intensive – constant heat, ventilation, lighting, air conditioning, etc. are all needed to make this environment conducive for work. Being so can not only have a financial impact but also, in the given climate, has a significant environmental impact. Hospitals, much like every other organization, have to think of ways they can reduce their carbon footprint and reduce their energy consumption.

While energy conservation can hardly be requested while surgery is going on, it can definitely be attained once the procedure is over. Sensors and smart technologies can be leveraged to create a work environment that is sterile and safe. Using smart access control systems, Operation Theater management can be optimized. Although operating rooms, even when not in use, need full ventilation and have a temperature required to keep the area sterile, sensors can be used to detect motion and reduce the heat and lights when not in use. This can significantly impact energy bills.

Along with this, the smart OT environment also conducts all the checks and ensures that the detailed checklist of requirements, cross-checking drugs and blood products brought into the room are all complete and that the surgical workspace is ergonomically correct to optimize outcomes and reduce post-operative risk.

Staff Management

One of the greatest challenges in the hospital environment is proper staff management. Operating rooms need human and material resource coordination to enable smooth surgeries. Given the number of stakeholders in surgery, it becomes necessary to coordinate all the necessary resources with optimal efficiency. Surgical staff, anesthesiologists, nursing attendants, support staff, and of course, the surgeons are all responsible for successful surgical outcomes.

But a hospital environment is anything but predictable? What happens if you cannot locate a nurse? How can you ensure that you have the right mix of trained and experienced as well as junior staff? Scheduling and staff management can be easily managed with the help of smart technologies. These technologies can gauge the load in the OT and ably allocate resources accordingly. A centrally connected dashboard can provide all the relevant staff-related information and help administrators allocate the right resources.

Documentation and Surgery Recording

A smart OT also works to reduce the load. While we have the latest technologies to assist the surgeons, we also need to focus on documentation. Documentation forms a critical part of all surgeries. Because after all, documentation is data. And data has to be complete.

Technologies such as voice to text recorders can be of immense help here. These technologies record the entire surgical proceeding as narrated and can save many hours that go into manually recording these.

Advancements in digital technologies are also making it possible to capture and record every minute of the surgical procedure underway. Smart tools such as operating microscopes and endoscopic camera systems have integrated systems to record video footage. This data can then be stored securely at the click of a button and can be a ready-reference to teach, develop new techniques, document the surgical process or even to assess what can be done better.

Automated Data Analysis & Monitoring from OT Equipment

The surgical products used in surgeries can be used to increase surgical efficiency and improve outcomes. Data generated from surgical equipment, sensors and wearable devices, intraoperative monitors, intraoperative flow cytometers, surgical navigation systems, etc. provide a wealth of information and can be used for continuous monitoring of the patients.

Alerts can be set based on data parameters to ensure greater safety of the patient and to improve surgical outcomes. Data is collected real time from all aspects of the surgical procedure real-time and can be easily compared to other processes to capably compare safety and efficiency trends. With more available data and homogeneous information, the surgeons can concentrate on the critical surgical procedures they undertake with complete confidence by supporting the decision-making process. The transparent nature of data collection also contributes in creating a culture of safety.

The benefits of intelligent operation theaters in smart hospitals are many. Staff optimizations, better process automation, timely alerts, better patient care, and ultimately improved patient outcomes being the obvious winners here. The smart environment ensures that all equipment and people are present, all compatibility checks are done, and the time and effort to conduct surgeries are reduced. All these go into making surgical processes safer and more efficient.