At our most recent Digital O.R. Symposium, we welcomed 130 specialists from 19 countries all over the world and had a chance to ask them their thoughts on O.R. integration. The respondents were experts from a wide range of professions, from doctors to IT to project managers.
With this data, we strove to better understand the needs of current and potential users of integrated operating rooms and the way they see the future of the operating room. The information we collected has been extremely helpful in giving us insight into this rapidly growing field. Below we’ve summarized their responses so we can further amplify the impact of their input by sharing it with you.
Let’s get into what we learned from these experienced delegates!
Takeaway 1 — Integrated operating rooms are on the rise
First we began with some basic questions to establish the level of experience and exposure our respondents already had with digital operating room integration. Of these respondents, the majority already work with integrated O.R.s in their institutions.
To dig deeper into why the other 36% had not yet integrated their O.R.s, we wanted to know the biggest challenges they face. We received responses ranging from abstract—from issues surrounding interoperability and compatibility to preparing for the future and becoming future-proof—to concrete—from integrating different data sources to pulling cables to budget concerns.
Takeaway 2 — Fears about cost, technical implementation and data safety still hold hospitals back from integrating O.R.s
We then wanted to know what they believed to be the greatest challenges when actually running a digital operating room. Respondents revealed that they were worried about a range of concerns, including:
- Technical problems
- Financial feasibility and return on investment
- Achieving simple, standardized, reliable workflows
- Surgeon satisfaction and meeting clinicians expectations
- The safety of patient information
From these answers, we saw that the drive to create and run high tech operating rooms exists, but hurdles still stand in the way.
Takeaway 3 — There is no standard definition of “integrated operating room”
When trying to define what makes an integrated O.R., it was difficult to pin down a clear answer. These varied responses confirmed what we already discovered in our very first blog post Hybrid O.R., Integrated O.R., Digital O.R.: The Differences (and Similarities):That O.R. integration means different things to different people.
Takeaway 4 — Digitalization is a priority for most institutions
We strove then to understand the extent of digitalization. When we asked what stage of Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) each organization was currently at, we were surprised to learn that more than half of their institutions were less than halfway there. EMRAM, created by HIMSS Analytics®, incorporates methodology and algorithms to automatically score hospitals around the world relative to their Electronic Medical Records (EMR) capabilities.
Takeaway 5 — Data is considered a necessary fixture in the O.R.
Regardless of the actual stage of EMRAM implementation, the desire to have at least some data available in the operating room was almost unanimous among respondents.
Takeaway 6 — With more advanced technology comes more complexity
Although the desire to have access to at least some data in the O.R. represents 96% of those asked, 85% agreed that the complexity of technology in their work environment has increased over time.
This was further supported by responses about if participants ever had trouble using software or devices because they seemed too complicated. Of the respondents, 97% indicated they have difficulties with complex technologies in their operating rooms.
Takeaway 7 — Clinicians want simple workflows regardless of how advanced technology may be
It was no surprise then that when we asked “What is most important for surgeons and other team members in the O.R. to ensure the best user experience” that most—84%!—responded that the key is simple, clear workflows.
Takeaway 8 — Advanced technology is the future of surgery
Despite an overwhelming percentage stating that complexity increased and that they have trouble utilizing complicated software and devices, 60% still believe that more advanced technology is the key to successfully completing work in the O.R. This shows us that intuitive workflows and intelligent, easy-to-use technologies that allow easy access to data in the O.R. are in great demand: They are the key to creating better treatments and better user experiences.
Regardless of this overwhelming belief that advanced technology is the key to success in the O.R., less than half of respondents knew about spatial computing—A huge future area of innovation for O.R. technology. This shows us that there is lots of room for educating hospital staff about the possibilities that will be available to them in the operating room of the future.
Finally, another big takeaway was the need for more interdepartmental collaboration. When asked: “Do Hospital IT and Medical Engineering work as one unit in your organization”, only 39% said yes. We hope this data inspires more hospital teams to work together!
While the initial intention of the symposium was to provide a platform for participants to learn about digital operating rooms, we ended up learning a lot too. Most of all, we discovered that we are not alone in knowing that the key to the future of the digital operating room is providing advanced technology with easy-to-use workflows.
We’d like to thank all the respondents for their helpful feedback.
* Data gathered at the 2019 Digital O.R. Symposium.