This article was authored by Dr. Jens von Lackum, Deputy Member of the Executive Board Aesculap, a subsidiary of B. Braun, and Dr. Boris Hofmann, Head of Business Development, Aesculap, a subsidiary of B. Braun.
The operating room (OR) is well-positioned to be one of the primary platforms for digitally enabled health care. These high-tech spaces have the potential to be more than the information-rich settings they already are. Because they integrate data from multiple sources and incorporate a range of tools, including voice recognition and augmented reality, future operating rooms will operate as distinct medical devices in their own right.
Today, unlocking a car with a specific key can automatically set the mirrors and the seat based on personal settings. At Aesculap, a division of the medical equipment supplier B. Braun, we believe the OR of the future will have that same functionality.
Upon the surgeon’s entrance into the room, medical equipment will automatically be arranged based on the type of surgery being performed and the physician’s predefined preferences. Decision support software that links patient data (e.g., laboratory values or MRI and CT scans) with outcomes reported in the literature will be available in real time. Devices, such as drills used in knee or hip surgery, will collect procedure-specific information that can be analyzed and displayed to reduce errors or allow more experienced physicians to provide advice remotely.
Augmenting performance through augmented reality
Augmented reality will be a critical enabler of this OR of the future. New visualization systems will allow the juxtaposition of real-time anatomical information with a variety of other types of data, dramatically changing how surgeries are performed.
For instance, augmented reality will allow surgeons to review scan data in conjunction with a patient’s anatomy to help guide exactly where — and how much tissue — to cut.
For complicated procedures involving soft tissues, such as brain surgery or tumorectomies, augmented reality systems could improve patient outcomes by decreasing the amount of tissue a surgeon needs to manipulate during the procedure. This would result in less trauma to the patient and, therefore, a faster overall recovery time.