Our health system's recent $1.1 billion expansion included the construction of a new cancer center with more than a dozen fully integrated ORs in which surgical video, navigation, robotics and other smart devices from departments throughout the hospital inform surgeons' decision-making by feeding clinically relevant information directly to the OR all without disrupting the sterile field. From the first exploratory conversations about the project to the celebratory ribbon cutting, the following rules of thumb were essential to adding the high-tech rooms that would help lead us into the future.
1. Dig deep
When you're talking about adding integrated technology, you have to surround yourself with a team of visionaries. Our task force included leaders from several disciplines surgery, clinical engineering, radiology, pathology, IT and purchasing, just to name a few. At the beginning stages, you're looking to answer one fundamental question: "What do we want from this building?"
From a perioperative services perspective, we started by defining the number of ORs we needed, based on projected volume, and then determined how to support those ORs in terms of pre-op rooms, PACUs, clean utility rooms and scrub sinks. At the same time, we began examining how to incorporate OR integration into the design.
2. Plan ahead
By considering all the procedures we were already doing and imagining what kinds of procedures we would be doing 5, 10 and even 20 years into the future, we forced ourselves to ask many more questions: Could we use room-to-room HD image routing to improve surgeons' decision-making? Would every OR need to be robot compatible? Could we benefit from illustrative types of equipment, like whiteboards and high-resolution touch-screen displays? Would surgeons like the ability to use hands-free technology to consult with a colleague or adjust room settings while in the middle of a case? Could we use telepathology to improve patient care both in and out of the OR?
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