By NICK GAFFEY
Technology Innovations being utilized in the Healthcare Setting:
Cutting-edge technology is no stranger to the healthcare market with some of the best companies in the world competing to bring the latest and greatest innovations to the OR. These technologies promise to help provide more efficient and safer outcomes for patients and healthcare staff. Companies are bringing futuristic technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and ultra-high definition (UHD) to the medical setting and changing the way healthcare providers are treating patients. These technologies are being utilized throughout medical settings in and out of the OR.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI seems to have become the latest buzzword in healthcare technology and is being utilized in various capacities throughout healthcare systems from devices in the OR to AI-powered database search solutions. Artificial intelligence in healthcare refers to the use of complex algorithms designed to perform certain tasks in an automated fashion. One type of AI technology that is well suited for healthcare is machine learning. If there is one activity at which machine learning excels, it is identifying patterns and extracting insights about complex systems given lots of data. Healthcare, therefore, represents an ideal challenge for AI. Omega Medical Imaging, based in Sanford, FL uses a machine learning-based AI technology called Fluoroshield®, to predict what a physician will need to view in a region of interest (ROI) during interventional procedures and uses this information to significantly reduce dangerous radiation to patients and staff. During an interventional case, Omega’s unique AI-enabled technology immediately and automatically detects the ROI of the interventionalist. This true AI system follows the movement of devices (endoscopes, catheters, etc.) to maintain and adjust the ROI. The process is automatic and hands-free – reducing distractions and input requirements from the physician or staff without disrupting workflow and blocks radiation outside this working ROI. This use of AI technology helps improve patient outcomes and assists in maintaining a safe work environment for the clinical team.
Robotic technologies appear in many areas throughout the healthcare environment. They can be used in a variety of applications including sterilization of patient rooms and operating suites, performing complex movements during surgeries, and operating lasers, for example. Data shows that robot-assisted procedures accounted for 15.1 percent of all general surgeries in 2018 and that number is rising. Robots in healthcare is not a new concept, however the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated adoption of the hospital-based robotic technology by using technology for contact-free disinfection and telepresence. St. Louis, MO-based Stereotaxis Inc. (STXS) aims to improve patient care and help physicians treat better with robot precision and safety. According to their website, the Stereotaxis Niobe® Robotic Magnetic Navigation System consists of two robotically controlled magnets next to the table. During a procedure, a physician uses an intuitive computer interface to adjust the magnetic field around the patient. This allows a physician to precisely direct and steer a catheter that has a magnet embedded in its tip. This pioneering use of robotic and magnetic technology improves patient safety and outcomes while helping the doctor to reach unprecedented precision.
4K Ultra-High Definition:
A technology that is literally improving the way doctors view procedures is ultra-high definition or 4K resolution. 4K refers to the number of pixels which make up the resolution (3840 x 2160). Resolution, in terms of TV hardware, refers to the number of pixels that compose the picture on the TV. A single pixel, or discrete picture element, consists of a tiny dot on the screen. The more pixels that make up the picture, the sharper and clearer the images on the monitor will be. In recent years 4K resolution monitors and TVs have become increasingly common in commercial and business environments alike as they have a resolution four times greater than standard full HD. As medical vendors harness this technology, 4K equipment including monitors, medical recorders, and cameras are now becoming increasingly common in the medical scene. To make clinical decisions during surgery, surgeons need to have confidence in the images they are seeing. 4K resolution offers better depth and perspective and richer detail than standard HD. Increasingly, video integration providers are enhancing procedure rooms in hospitals, surgery centers, and outpatient facilities with a full array of 4K equipment. This 4K equipment extends beyond just the display. Companies such as FSN Medical Technologies manufacture monitors, medical video recorders, video managers, and switchers to enhance how the doctor sees during procedures to enhance patient outcomes and improve care. Amico Corporation, based in Ontario, Canada, supplies a 4K camera mounted in the center of their surgical light. This cutting-edge use of technology allows providers to record video during surgery with crystal clear resolution and impeccable lighting. Using these state-of-the-art tools in concert, a doctor can view 4K images live during a procedure, record these images for future use, and stream the images to colleagues all at the same time.
The healthcare sector is arguably the most important sector in the U.S. and world economy and will continue to fuel and utilize new and innovative technology advancements. One key to these advancements will be the ability of manufacturers to make this technology user-intuitive and easy to understand and use. If technology becomes too complex for the clinician to easily take advantage of or the learning curve for advanced devices outpaces the return on investment, technology will not be widely adopted. Healthcare as an industry has the responsibility of maintaining the highest standard of patient care possible. As new waves of AI and robotics technology enters the market, these new advances should be judged on their ability to improve safety and patient outcomes. As more technologies enter the healthcare market, one thing is for certain, these technologies are not slowing down and are transforming the way care is being provided and patients are treated.
Nick Gaffey is the CEO at OMI MedTech, LLC., a medical equipment service and technology company. Before being named CEO of OMI MedTech, Nick worked in the medical industry as a medical group practice administrator, OR video integration specialist, capital equipment sales rep, and service director of a capital equipment OEM. You can find out information about Nick’s company by visiting https://www.omimedtech.com. If you are interested in reaching out to Nick regarding this article or any other relevant healthcare topics, please contact him at Nick.Gaffey@OMIMedTech.com.