The OR is big business.
Today, at the onset of value-based care (VBC) systems worldwide, operating rooms constitute the centerpiece of hospital finance, accounting for over 50% of total revenue. Couple that with a high incidence of excess cost, owing to inefficient processes, patient readmission, and reoperation. Not surprisingly, investment in new technology to improve care in the OR has emerged as a key strategic priority for hospital administrators.
OR integration is not necessarily new technology. The benefits of centralizing surgical video displays and integrating devices have long been established, and most ORs in developed healthcare markets are already utilizing some sort of integration technology.
But like many areas of tech – and especially medtech – development in OR integration has hit a plateau. One of the main reasons for this is that OR integrations are often built to the specifications of the manufacturer’s own medical devices and hardware components. The end result is that most OR integrations lack the ability to integrate the most current technologies, which brings future development to a standstill.
Another outcome of the vendor-dependent integration market is that not all integrations are made equal. With VBC systems worldwide putting the OR under the microscope, it has become increasingly important to invest in OR integration technology that can support new devices and applications, in order to ensure the surgical department’s success.
Here are four key components of OR integration to keep in mind when investing in new technology
Keep it High-Resolution
OR integration expedites surgical workflow by collecting and centralizing the display of crucial OR information. In addition to patient vital signs, EHR data, and images stored in the PACS, full integration also gathers the audio and video feeds from around the OR to improve real-time visualization for the surgical team. Image quality and latency are also crucial. Having high-resolution imagery displayed from multiple angles in real-time demands a zero-latency solution, in order for the surgeon to have the untainted visibility required perform more complex minimally-invasive procedures. Having an OR equipped to perform these kinds of procedures attracts world-class surgeons, giving hospitals a competitive edge.
Prepare For What Comes Next
The rate of technological advancement is moving at unprecedented speed. Hospitals must be able to quickly adapt and integrate new technologies as they hit the market. OR integrators have to be prepared not only to work with existing hospitals tools and systems, but must also be designed so as to be compatible with new developments down the line. Enabling ORs with IoT and video-over-IP (VoIP) technologies prepares them for the latest developments, including surgical robotics.
Communicate With Other Teams
OR integration enables the surgeon to take advantage of the best tools inside the OR. It also serves as a conduit between the surgeon and external resources. Since OR integration systems seek to consolidate and centralize information, sharing this information in real-time with other surgeons should also be quick and simple. This manifests in a number of use cases, ranging from external consultations to telemedicine to surgical training and classroom education. Seamlessly communicating the status of a surgery to OR managers also helps to reduce inefficiencies also saves hospitals money.
Engage the Entire Surgical team
OR integration is meant to alleviate stress for OR staff, not create it. Ensuring that the system is intuitive, ergonomic, and easily deployed is vital. Surgeons are not the only member of the surgical team worth considering. By centralizing case data and eliminating redundant tasks, all members of the team can maintain a focus on the procedure itself, thus helping to reduce patient risk and optimize workflow. In doing this, OR staff can also help to reduce surgical variation and standardize treatment at the point of care, further minimizing patient risk. In the push towards value-based care, reducing complications and improving patient outcomes directly correlates to hospital revenue.
With further changes to payment schemes being made (e.g. MACRA and MIPS) and the continuous introduction of new and innovative surgical tools, the merits of OR integration are undeniable. With hospital revenue on the line, there has never been a more crucial point to consider making the switch to a fully-integrated, digital operating room. Keeping these points in mind, hospitals will be well-positioned to leverage their investment to improve patient outcomes at a lower price.