Digital Surgery partners with U.K. hospitals to bring GPS-style directions to the operating room

Hybrid operating room
The Go Surgery app will offer an audiovisual checklist of procedure steps, developed with University College London Hospitals and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, as sort of a “sat-nav” for surgery. (The Innovation Institute)

Digital Surgery, a company aiming to bring step-by-step roadmaps to the operating room, is partnering with two U.K. hospitals to chart out their surgical procedures and workflow and then make them available on a wider, more standardized scale via an iPad app.

The makers of the Touch Surgery app, an interactive surgical simulator for training healthcare professionals, will collaborate with University College London Hospitals and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital to develop their new platform, Go Surgery, designed to assist and coordinate a surgical team with real-time guidance. 

“Right now, a host of variables, many outside surgeons’ control, are currently undermining surgical performance,” said Jean Nehme, co-founder and CEO of Digital Surgery. “It is our hope that the products we are building will help surgeons and operating room teams to better control these variables and subsequently improve patient outcomes and drive costs down.”

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Go Surgery offers audio and visual descriptions of procedure steps, controlled by a surgeon using a wireless foot pedal, as sort of a “sat-nav” for surgery. Essentially an intelligent checklist, the app lists the equipment that should be on hand, and also alerts the surgeon of any risks, such as a nearby nerve.

This allows all members of a surgical team to stay on the same page, Nehme said, and derive some consistency from the process. 

“From a technologist's perspective, they're aware of what instrument to give next, and what instruments should be there,” Nehme told FierceMedTech. “From an assistant perspective, they're aware of what step the surgeon's on.”

“If you're an expert surgeon, you wouldn't use this to learn or follow the instructions, but you'd use it to make sure that everybody else in the room is coordinated,” Nehme said. It also allows separate teams and institutions to more easily compare any differences in their procedures.

The platform is slated to launch in July for use in general and orthopedic surgery. While the system started with a few procedures, in bariatrics and hip and knee surgeries, for example, the app is built in a way that allows a department to input and customize their own, Nehme said. 

Future iterations of Go Surgery may even include virtual or augmented reality headsets, but right now the hardware is not surgery-ready, he said. In addition, offering more surgical guidance beyond the educational and checklist stages will require an FDA clearance. 

“As it expands, we're going to have to be having conversations with the FDA,” he said. “Right now, as a documentation and research tool, it's being deployed without the need for a full FDA clearance.”