From Google Glass to robotic updates, the OR of the future is here

From Google Glass to robotic updates, the OR of the future is here

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | March 07, 2014
GE Healthcare’s Discovery
IGS 730
From the March 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The future is here — all you have to do is look inside a U.S. operating room. Robots can now mimic the hand movements of surgeons, glasses can project CT scans, and hybrid imaging systems can move robotically. “I think that any physician really is challenged today just keeping up with the technology,” says Rob Maliff, director of the applied solutions group at ECRI Institute.

These new, highly innovative technologies are entering into the operating room at a rapid fire pace and dramatically changing the practice of surgery. Today, surgeons can conduct procedures from a remote location and even live-stream them for educational and consulting purposes. This is key because these complex devices require extensive training.

Look, no hands!

Lately, one of the most buzzed-about technologies is a pair of glasses created by Google that works like a computer. Once the masses have access to Google Glass later this year, people will be able to take pictures, livestream videos and surf the Internet without having to lift a finger.

But it doesn’t stop there; Google is currently giving out early models of the glasses to various professions in order to find out what other capabilities it has. Surgery is one of them.

Dr. Selene Parekh, a surgeon at the North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic, sent a proposal to Google about nine months ago discussing his interest in the technology and his plans for maximizing its potential. “When Google Glass was announced and was on limited availability I thought it would be a great way to potentially see exactly what I’m seeing in the OR and be able to archive surgeries and use them for teaching and education later on,” he says.

He recently brought Glass with him to the Indo-U.S. Foot and Ankle Surgery Conference and used it to live-stream surgery to about 120 orthopedic surgeons sitting in a conference room. Live-streaming surgery is not something new, but Glass enables a view that was previously only available to the surgeon.

Other than providing education, the live-stream capabilities enable surgeons to bring outside expertise into the operating room during surgery. It’s as if an expert surgeon is inside the room, except they could be thousands of miles away.

Parekh thinks that since it’s a generation one product, it still needs some fine-tuning, but it has enormous potential. “I think it goes obviously beyond health care, but in terms of surgery and health care, I think it will revolutionize educational training and improve global patient care,” he says.

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