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The Benefits of Fully-Managed Surgical Intelligence

Ready to Upgrade Your Operating Rooms with AI?

If you’re upgrading your OR to take advantage of the many benefits of AI technology for patients, surgeons, and healthcare organizations, don’t make the mistake of only considering how and what a particular platform records. The question of what happens to all of your recordings is just as (or maybe even more!) important as what and how you record.

  • Where will recorded data be stored?
  • Will this sensitive data be secure?
  • Will storage be onsite, or can it be cloud based?
  • Will data storage cost extra, or is it included in your platform?

Knowing why these considerations are important and how to ask the right questions before investing in technology that isn’t the right fit for your organization can save a lot of headaches and money down the road.

Data Storage

Before investing in technology to record and analyze surgical video, it is essential to consider all aspects of data storage. Surgical video is not only needed for immediate review of cases and association with post-operative outcomes, it will also be part of a patient’s medical record and stored indefinitely for record keeping and legal purposes. 

 

This means significant storage space is needed, especially if you will be recording high-quality video. Investing in on-premises servers and managing your own storage requires considerable space and is extremely costly—averaging about $500k per year. In contrast, cloud-based storage is more secure, and eliminates the need for those costly investments. 

 

As you can see, the question of where and how to store surgical video is going to affect the all-in price of the technology you choose. Some platforms, such as Theator’s Surgical Intelligence platform, offer unlimited cloud-based storage as part of our package. No hidden fees or need to upgrade once you’ve reached a certain point, unlike our competitors. 

Data Security

Like any other identifiable patient information, stored surgical video must meet the highest privacy and security standards. In the case of surgical video, it’s also important to ensure that only the surgical field is captured in recordings to further maintain privacy of patients and staff.

One way to limit recording outside of the surgical field is to use technology that identifies and blurs out-of-body segments of surgical video. This is exactly the technology that Theator uses in our platform—with 99.5% accuracy, the highest in the industry—where privacy and security are top priorities.

Security certifications are a key indicator that a surgical intelligence platform meets industry-leading security standards. Theator is the only platform with both HITRUST and SOC2 Type 2 certifications and we are HIPAA compliant, so patients and staff can rest assured their privacy is protected.

Think Big Picture for Surgical Intelligence

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re making a large investment in a surgical AI platform, be sure to consider every aspect of the product from start to finish first. The platform’s performance in the OR is of course paramount, but it’s also crucial to consider what happens to your recorded content after each case. Otherwise, you may be left with substantial ongoing costs, and challenges that could undermine 

Use our AI Technology Evaluation Checklist​ to help. 

Will AI Replace Surgeons?

Will AI Replace Surgeons?

AI tools have become a hot topic of conversation in healthcare over the past year, and with good reason. Although patients are unlikely to have a visit with Dr. Chatbot anytime soon, AI technologies are now used on a daily basis by a variety of clinicians, including surgeons. This means it’s likely the role of AI in surgical care will grow, leading many surgeons to ask, “Is AI going to replace me?”

 

The short answer to this question is, “No, but…” Let’s dive in to discuss who/what is more likely and less likely to be replaced by AI technologies.

What Can AI Do That Surgeons Can’t?

Although the adoption of digital technologies, including AI, in the healthcare industry lags behind most other professional sectors, currently available AI tools are able to perform certain tasks that are not feasible for physicians, usually because of time constraints.

The crux of all AI technologies, which makes them so appealing, is their ability to process voluminous amounts of data in a short time period and generate useful output about this data. This is possible because these tools are trained on large datasets, which allows them to create algorithms. 

 

There is no shortage of available data in healthcare. In fact, the situation is quite the opposite- we have more data than time to process and make use of it.  This is what AI can do that doctors can’t. It has the ability to mine large quantities of data and generate patient-specific recommendations for management, such as individualized preoperative risk stratification.

What Can AI Do That Surgeons Don’t Want To?

While the idea of AI taking over tasks that physicians currently perform may sound ominous, there are a number of instances in which this is likely to be a welcome change. 

One such example is the use of AI technologies for clinical documentation. Surgeons spend a substantial amount of time on clinical documentation, often outside of normal working hours. Not only do these hours spent on clinical documentation take surgeons away from direct patient care, they also contribute to physician burnout

 

Imagine an AI tool that can pair with intraoperative video recording already in use and take what it sees to generate an accurate operative report. Such technology already exists, and its widespread use could greatly reduce the administrative burden for surgeons and, therefore, decrease burnout. 

How Can AI Augment Surgical Care?

Rather than viewing AI as a tool that will replace the work of surgeons, it makes more sense to think of it as a means of augmenting the care that surgeons currently provide, like an additional surgical instrument. 

 

AI technologies being developed for use in the OR have the ability to identify critical anatomic landmarks and steps in a surgical procedure. This information can then be used for clinical decision support and improved workflow efficiency. 

For example, currently available AI tools are able to identify the Critical View of Safety during laparoscopic cholecystectomy with 84% accuracy. Such technologies have the potential to reduce errors and improve quality by encouraging best surgical practices in every case. 

 

Furthermore, these same tools that pair with intraoperative video already being recorded are able to detect surgical case steps, meaning they have the potential to offer feedback to the user about the best next steps while simultaneously providing real-time information to OR staff about the expected time remaining in a case, allowing for streamlined OR workflow.

 

So, will AI replace surgeons? It’s unlikely. However, given that AI tools have the ability to improve patient safety, clinical outcomes, quality of care, and clinical documentation, according to AMA President Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, “Physicians who use AI will replace those who don’t.”

 “Physicians who use AI will replace those who don’t.”

This sentiment is echoed by Keith Horvath, MD, AAMC’s senior director of clinical transformation, who notes that “AI is not going to replace physicians, but physicians who use AI are going to replace physicians who don’t, and that may be the cautionary tale.” 

 

AI’s inability to quickly evolve or work in a non-linear fashion means that these tools are unable to match the critical thinking skills of surgeons, who perform their roles in this manner on a daily basis. In addition, AI will never be able to offer the key ingredient of medical care: empathy. There will always be a need for human-to-human interaction that cannot be replaced by AI.

 

However, if surgeons experience better outcomes, improved efficiency, and decreased burnout by augmenting their work with AI tools, it makes sense that experts expect those who utilize them will be replaced by those who do not. The key for surgeons in this new era of medical care is to learn and adapt to change, as the benefits AI promises for patients and surgeons alike mean that it is here to stay.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

The release of ChatGPT’s artificial intelligence took the world by storm in 2022, leaving most casual users amazed at the type of content it could produce. Want to build a customized workout plan? Check. Want to rewrite your resume? Check. A list of topics for a dinner party or work lunch? Check and check. While it’s clearly impressive that ChatGPT has knowledge on an unfathomable number of topics, its primary awe-inspiring feature is its ability to rapidly create novel content that generally reads as if it was written by a human.

 

This revelation set off ongoing discussions in nearly every field about the opportunities, threats, risks, and benefits of AI technology. Healthcare is no exception to this discussion, especially given the high-stakes nature of patient care. So how exactly can we expect AI to be used (and not used) in the healthcare industry?

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Before jumping into the role of AI in healthcare, it’s important to understand what defines artificial intelligence. The original concept of AI dates back to 1956, when John McCarthy described it as the science and engineering of making intelligent machines. On a big picture level, AI refers to technology that is able to perform tasks that typically require a human level of intelligence and insight.  

All AI technologies have the same foundational mechanisms. They are programmed with sets of data to develop algorithms that allow them to quickly generate output based on pattern recognition. AI tools like ChatGPT are programmed with enormous data sets. This is why they are capable of both generating your grocery list and recommending the next book you should read. Other tools, such as those used in the healthcare industry, are programmed on more limited data sets related only to their intended use. So while the “A” in AI stands for artificial, in reality it functions more as augmented intelligence that helps humans perform all kinds of tasks.

How is AI Used in Healthcare Today?

Although the term “artificial intelligence” still has a futuristic ring to it, the truth is that AI has been used in the healthcare setting for decades. Current uses of AI in healthcare include data analysis, clinical decision support, and disease diagnosis and treatment, among others.

 

Radiologists were early adopters of AI tools, which makes sense given the technology-forward nature of their work. As of 2020, the American College of Radiology reported that 30% of radiologists had adopted AI technologies. AI tools are currently being used by radiologists to detect intracranial aneurysms and pulmonary embolisms. Furthermore, they supplement routine radiologist workflows by tracing tumors and measuring the amount of fat and muscle on a CT.  

 

Another example of the current role of AI tools in healthcare is the use of natural language processing in clinical documentation. Natural language processing describes the way in which technologies like ChatGPT can interpret typical human language input to generate meaningful output. Tools like Nuance’s Dragon Ambient eXperience are able to transcribe a patient/clinician interaction and use this information to generate appropriate electronic clinical documentation.

What’s the Future of AI in Healthcare?

If you’ve ever used Siri on your iPhone, had Netflix suggest movies you may like, or used Google Maps to get to your destination, then you already know that AI technology is here to stay, and the healthcare sector is no exception to this. So what does this mean for the future of medical care and those who provide it?

 

Most experts agree that AI will not replace doctors or other healthcare professionals, and it’s unlikely that patients will be scheduling visits with a ChatGPT-like bot anytime soon. Instead, AI technology will be used to enhance processes and workflows, improve quality, and assist with making sense of the massive sets of patient data that exist in healthcare organizations. 

While any new technology used to provide patient care requires meticulous vetting and consideration of its ethical implications prior to widespread use, the benefits that high-quality AI tools can offer in the healthcare industry have the potential to substantially improve care delivery and reduce costs and administrative burden.

Cost Reduction:

It’s no secret that the US spends more money on healthcare than other economically similar countries. AI technologies that automate, streamline, or improve processes can reduce healthcare costs. For example, one healthcare system noted a savings of $3 to $4 per visit when they changed to an automated scheduling system.

Improved Patient Care:

AI-powered patient monitoring tools offer the ability to not only monitor metrics such as vitals signs, but also to take that data to the next level by looking for patterns that may indicate an impending medical emergency. Such tools are being developed for use both in the hospital setting and for home monitoring of patients. 

Reduced Physician Burnout:

Burnout notably affects a significant number of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, which has the downstream effect of growing numbers of healthcare workers leaving their jobs. Therefore, AI tools that can alleviate pain points that contribute to burnout, such as time spent on clinical documentation, can serve to reduce this threat to the healthcare workforce. For example, an AI tool that collects patient health information in advance of a doctor’s visit and automatically generates clinical documentation was shown to reduce intake and documentation time by 90%.

Enhanced Quality & Safety:

AI’s ability to quickly analyze large sets of data leads to important implications for patient safety and quality of care. Examples of this include AI tools that accurately predict which patients are developing hospital acquired infections and others that monitor hand hygiene practices and provide reminders to clinicians to improve compliance.

AI in Healthcare: The Future is Now

Current trends in the development and implementation of AI in the healthcare setting all point in the same direction: AI is here to stay. AI tools offer the potential to address some of the most pressing concerns in today’s healthcare industry, including rising costs, physician burnout, quality, and patient safety. In particular, one area of healthcare that is ripe for disruption with AI is surgical care

While the adoption of AI technologies in healthcare should be held to the same standards the industry uses for other elements of patient care, such as drugs and medical devices, it’s clear that organizations that are slow to adopt AI as it becomes mainstream may be left significantly behind their competitors. Therefore, the time is now for healthcare leaders to explore evolving technologies and the potential solutions they may offer. 

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