Networking is transforming healthcare. However, it is yet to progress to the treatment room. Almost every medical device used is a stand-alone device which has significant drawbacks. An ongoing Japanese nation project focuses on developing the operating network with flexible integration of different medical devices using factory automation technology. This will provide an open application development environment to many vendors in the medical profession.
By Jun Okamoto
Development of internal online networking within the operating room (OR) is currently not well established. As a result, all medical devices are utilized in a stand-alone fashion. This creates significant drawbacks: various equipment used during surgery, multiple operational systems and related databases remain non-integrated and non-coordinated with each other.
In hospitals, the different types and units of medical engineering can reach into the hundreds, making it impossible for doctors and staff to familiarise themselves with all the equipment. But with the introduction of newly developed equipment, the risk of problems during surgery or a procedure can be reduced. However, management costs of the operation room are increased if the new equipment is not integrated as a system. As a result, the stress on the staff and the risks within the operating room increase.
A new generation of cyber operating rooms
In 2014, Tokyo Women’s Medical University (TWMU) together with the support of the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) set up the next generation networked OR – the Smart Cyber Operating Theater (SCOT). In their research paper published in the journal Biomedical Engineering, the authors describe and present the concept of the SCOT project.
The ongoing project is directed at developing the operating room network with flexible integration of the different medical devices using factory automation technology. It allows collection of various intraoperative data and their integration into a unified database, and provides an open application development environment to many vendors.
Cutting-edge surgery system: Smart Cyber Operating Theater © The Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development
SCOT is based on a combination of intelligent ORs equipped with intraoperative MRI. It was initially established in 2000 at TWMU and is one of the main keystones for information-guided neurosurgery and internal online networking that integrates various equipment within OR with the communication interface OPeLiNK.
The latter collects data from the various medical devices, saves it applying time synchronization, and distributes to individual applications. OPeLiNK is based on the Open Resource interface for the Network (ORiN) technology, which was originally developed for the use in industry. ORiN creates abstracts for groups of devices of the same type, which increases the robustness of the entire system in case the exchange of equipment is needed. The architecture of the network increases flexibility of the system construction and provides an open application development environment for third parties.
Integrative operating systems to improve precision of surgery
At present, surgical navigation systems, intraoperative monitors, intraoperative flow cytometers, patient monitor, coagulation system, and other kinds of equipment may be interconnected with OPeLiNK within SCOT. Transformation of the OR consisting of separate medical devices into an integrative operating system will likely improve the precision of surgical treatment, increase its effectiveness, and reduce accompanying risks.
With the implementation of Smart Cyber Operating Theater (SCOT), each medical device will be connected to the online network, which will allow smart integrated functioning of the entire system.