This article appears in the January/February print issue of Surgical Products.

An “integrated” operating room can take many forms, but a properly configured and designed one ends up being more than the sum of its components. In a perfect world, it accommodates a wide range of procedures both quickly and easily, and its users are free to maximize and leverage the tools they need to secure the best surgical outcomes.

“It’s is more than an equipment boom, surgical lights, and audio/video routing,” says Keith Evans, Director of Marketing, Stryker.

It’s the sum of those and other components – disparate and complex systems, workstations, and controls – joined together in one streamlined system that’s both flexible and easy to use. Furthermore, it allows for a facility to achieve such goals as increased throughput, improved workflow, and more efficient use of OR equipment.

“The degree and simplicity of integration can vary quite significantly,” says Ken Crocker, Surgical Product Specialist, Eizo. “However, the ultimate goal of an integrated OR is to simplify management of the environment in support of best surgical outcomes.”

This is accomplished in a number of ways. Among them is the manipulation of video, audio, and environmental controls so as to maximize the value of those systems. According to Evans, this means “video can be displayed on demand on a multitude of endpoints, devices can be controlled from a single interface point, and equipment can be moved freely and easily to facilitate room turnover and case setup.”

Being able to control advanced equipment and technology has never been more important to the healthcare industry than it is today. The same can be said for hospital personnel’s ability to enter and process information from various systems. Integration brings various pieces of critical procedural information tableside. It allows them to quickly and effectively evaluate data from multiple sources and make informed decisions. Tying all of the aforementioned equipment and systems together also helps hospitals deal with unwanted complexity and challenges.

However, it is in the display of video and images that OR integration really provides value.

“That’s often a focal point for the effective integrated OR,” says Crocker.

The key word is “effective.” Configured to their maximum potential, integrated ORs allow for real-time IP video conferencing and network connectivity for devices that are capable of interfacing with picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) or electronic medical records (EMR).  They also allow for the capability of displaying multiple inputs on a single ultra- high-definition medical grade display.

“The increasing prevalence of eight-megapixel displays in the hybrid OR environment is leading the charge to an improved way of viewing information during the surgical procedure,” says Crocker.

“These developments are bringing the vision of the movie Minority Report into reality,” he adds.

However, OR integration isn’t without its challenges. Staff training and support are critical to ensuring the effectiveness of the integrated OR. Also, ease of use and system maintenance must be key considerations. Without them, the long-term viability of integration services is very much in question. Redundancy and auto-recovery features are also essential to ensure constant availability during a procedure.

Lastly, picking the right vendor can sometimes make all the difference between the development  of a successfully integrated OR and one that falls short of expectations in terms of performance,  flexibility,  and return on investment.

“It is essential to evaluate integration vendors on their service and support reputation in addition to the features and benefits of the individual products,” says Evans.

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