The Future of (Digital) Surgery
Hospitals are replacing antiquated surgical spaces with new operating suites to better support outpatient surgery, minimally invasive techniques, and digital and technological innovations. Robotic surgical systems and imaging technologies like surgical navigation systems are projected to become ubiquitous.
The fastest growing segment of the U.S. population comprises individuals who are over age 65. Their numbers are expected to increase 53.2% by 2020 and will result in significantly increased demands for surgical services. Recent analyses have predicted increases in service demands to be as high as 14–47% in all surgical fields by 2020, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Four trends are shaping such demand for surgical services:
- Demographic shifts and changing consumer preferences are shaping care in the following ways:
- Growing rates of chronic illnesses continue to fuel (complex) inpatient growth.
- Population shifts are polarizing the general surgery business across communities and the strategies that follow suit.
- Care management efforts are bringing down unnecessary utilization through:
- Providers that are revisiting perioperative care protocols, representing a paradigm shift.
- Pain management’s focus, which is shifting from achieving zero pain to optimizing safety.
- Provider roles and clinics that are emerging to coordinate care across inpatient and outpatient sites.
- Innovations are becoming the new norm, such as:
- Applications of biologics in wound care that are gaining traction—but at a steep price.
- Robots that are becoming a cost of doing business, with key implications on surgical education.
- Surgical care that is treading into the virtual realm, though “sci-fi” applications still not adopted.
- Demand for care is shifting from inpatient to outpatient—and beyond through:
- Payers that are taking an increasingly active role in steering care to lower cost sites.
- ASCs, which are an attractive investment for hospitals, though hospital players aren’t alone.
- New treatment and medication options that may compound shift across sites and into the home.
Therefore, we need to develop strategies to meet this expanding workload, especially in operating rooms (OR). Problems in today’s OR include:
- Personnel shortages for such positions as nurses, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and technicians.
- Inefficient, ineffective, and redundant procedures for scheduling and supply management.
- Fragmented communications and isolation.
- Instrument incompatibility and connectivity problems.
A Look into the Modern OR
While operating rooms (OR) are one of the most critical areas of a hospital, historically they have had a very low degree of technological savvy. The crucial components of an OR a decade ago were surgical lights, simple operating tables, and critical surgical devices. However, there has been a significant transition thanks to technology adoption in modern hospitals. An increasing demand for operational efficiency and the need for precision and technology innovation has led to the adoption of automated and sophisticated technologies within operating rooms. Surgical robotics, high-resolution displays, advanced operating tables, and well-integrated network infrastructure now define modern hybrid operating rooms.