How to Ensure You Get the Most out of Your O.R. Technology

How to Ensure You Get the Most out of Your O.R. Technology
Updated July 14, 2021 3 minute read

When a hospital builds a digitally integrated operating room, the potential to improve treatments and outcomes for patients through technology is enormous. That potential, however, can only be used to its fullest if all team members are fully trained and comfortable using these devices and software. So how do you ensure that your O.R. team gets the most out of this investment in advanced technology?

The most important element of integrating anything, from a device to an entire operating room, is awareness. Your top priority should be to make the entire team aware that the technology exists and that it is there to help them in their daily work. This may seem like a no-brainer, but just because the technology is in plain sight does not mean that everyone will take it upon themselves to learn what it has to offer.

Making sure all parties are on the same page is a challenge. Everyone is busy and has their own daily tasks prioritized. Technology is often chosen for the O.R. by consultants or stakeholders who aren’t necessarily involved in the daily work in the operating room, which can make it difficult to get those daily users on board. In order to ensure all involved team members are abreast of the latest technology, you have to get creative.

We put together a list of tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way to ensure that everyone on your team is taking full advantage of the advanced technology available in your operating room. 

1. Understand yourself how the technology works! 

This first one may seem obvious, but if you don’t understand, no one will! For example, if you tell a surgeon that their new technology allows them to create 3D reconstructions, they might dismiss you by telling you that radiology will do that for them. By knowing the technology inside and out, you can let them know the benefit of creating their own reconstructions, which will encourage them to use it.

2. Before you train, observe  

Join the team in the O.R. during surgery. Are there things they are doing that could be streamlined or improved with the technology? Make notes and highlight those features and functionalities in your training plan.

3. Break it down

An operating room environment is a busy one indeed. It can be hard to sit everyone who will be using a piece of technology down to train them properly and thoroughly. We’ve witnessed a lot of success when hospitals start with interactive e-learnings as a way of introducing concepts, especially when large groups of people need to be trained. From there, various sessions can be added including hands-on training, perhaps also in smaller groups. Smaller groups have the added benefit of ensuring that each participant is focused and engaged. If you still can’t manage to sit everyone down for a thorough training session, you may want to…

4. Tailor your training 

Create different levels of training depending on how that person or group will interact with the technology: Occasional or minimal engagement users who just need to know how to turn the system or software on only require an understanding of basic functionality. Power users should be trained on all functionalities of the device or software, so they know how to use the technology to ensure smooth workflows and to maximize patient outcomes.

5. Bring in real life scenarios

Go through real world workflow cases as much as possible. Consider where equipment should go, where it will connect, how to utilize it, etc. during training. For example, use this below mock-scenario to cover the basics of digital O.R. functionality:

  • Pre-op: Selecting and enriching patient images
  • Intra-op: Routing video sources, making changes mid-case, streaming and taking screenshots and recordings, conferencing
  • Post-op: Reviewing images, editing videos, saving and retrieving documentation from digital storage

6. Address troubleshooting

One of the biggest challenges in training isn’t how to work the system step-by-step, rather, what to do when something goes wrong. One of our customers in the US, for example, created a short, private YouTube video and added QR codes to the side of their systems. Whenever there are issues, users can scan the code, watch the video on the spot from their phone and quickly get the answers they need.

7. Find your super users 

Encourage a member of each level of user interaction to become an advocate for the technology. This person should be enthusiastic enough to go above and beyond to show and teach their colleagues the system’s various capabilities. Consider also creating an incentive program to encourage these advocates to spread their knowledge.

8. Involve the surgeons!

Often during training sessions, only 5% of attendees will be surgeons, while the other 95% is made up of other O.R. personnel. Go the extra mile and take the time to really educate the surgeon on the functionality of new technology. Show them how the technology can make their life and work easier. They lead the whole O.R. during surgery: If the surgeon isn’t using the technology, no one is!

9. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Repetition is one of the best ways to ensure that the technology you’ve invested in remains a valuable investment. It may seem frustrating or redundant to keep repeating the capabilities of a device or software over and over again, but once your team has a handle on how to use the technology to its fullest, it will all be worth the effort!

10. Don’t forget to follow up

When you’re in the O.R., be sure to watch how the team interacts with the technology. Are they using it to its fullest? Or have they fallen back into their old habits? Watching the team in action will be the best way to determine if training on a new technology has really sunk in.

Thorough and proper training is really the best way to maximize an investment in technology in the O.R. Remember: If they’re not using it, it’s like it’s not even there!

How do you train your staff? What incentives or methods do you employ? We’d love to hear from you. Send us an email at [email protected].

Kees-Jan Sikma


Lauren Greenwood


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