The ideal operating room of the future will feature an awe-inspiring array of cutting-edge technology, but it will also have another vital feature. It'll be designed to cultivate and support a perfect marriage of humans and machines, a union designed to bring out the best in each.
A dozen or more monitors will be strategically placed around the room, each with multiple inputs. Every member of the surgical team will have access to the patient's electronic medical record, providing instant feedback as the team works in harmonious concert. High-definition and 3D angiographic and endoscopic images will make every bit of potentially useful information available to the surgeon, the anesthesia provider and the nurses. The team will be able to communicate in real time with a pathologist situated elsewhere. Equipment will be accessible from booms that glide along the ceiling, letting staff move around easily, undaunted by the tangle of cords.
The sweet spot
How far ahead are we looking? Maybe not as far as you'd think. We know that healthcare technology is advancing at breakneck speed, routinely pushing the boundaries of the possible beyond all preconceived limitations. The key will be to find ways to align innovation with the human realities of cost, quality and outcome.
The effort is well underway.
Finding the sweet spot, the perfect balance between humans and machines, is one of the goals behind "OR 360," a joint effort by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the U.S. military to design and implement their joint vision of the future.
"Our focus is on the way humans interface with technology," says Bruce Gewertz, MD, surgeon-in-chief and chair of the hospital's department of surgery. "Lighting, sound, the environment, teamwork the whole overall system is what determines the outcome of a procedure. People tend to think it's the surgeon who accounts for 99% of everything, but we now understand that it takes a village. To succeed, the village has to be in sync, it has to have the tools it needs, and it has to have the environment it needs."