« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

May 13, 2007

Surgical Robots on the Surface and in the Deep

Surgical robots are putting themselves about.

A fantastic experimental robot is reviewed in 24 April 2007 New Scientist. The Heartlander is inserted using a minimally invasive technique. It then attaches itself by evacuated suckers to the heart and inches its way across it concertina like injecting medication and attaching devices. You can read the article and see the device in action here.

Meanwhile, aquanauts on the NASA NEEMO mission are experimenting with telesurgery using robotic arms.

May 12, 2007

IT from Outside to In

Picture of surgeons at work.New Scientist (5 May 2007) describes transgastric surgery—a technique pioneered in India that passes surgical tools and a camera through the patient’s mouth to operate on their abdomen. The article ends with:

“Historically surgery is notorious for following fashions and ignoring evidence--to the detriment of patients....”

In an article on the 21 May 2007 A Helping Hand for Keyhole Surgery New Scientist describes a three-fingered hand researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed that is assembled inside the patient. Professor Sir Ara Darzi (that man again) endorses the novelty of the idea, because until now surgical toolmakers have concentrated on making keyhole surgery instruments smarter and more articulated.

Regular readers will know of my passion for the full integration of IT with patient care. At the moment IT comes later or is considered nice to have. We should build our care processes with IT on the inside rather than making it smarter on the outside. Then maybe we will have the evidence to underpin improvements to surgery and care.

Negative to Positive

I have been reading FierceHealth IT's website that has been making awards to hospitals for innovation. I was taken by Licking Memorial Hospital that since 1999 has been publishing quality information—good and bad—for 12 clinical specialties, including cardiology, chronic heart failure, maternity care, respiratory care and diabetes care. By addressing its failures openly it has turned this process into competitive advantage.