We CAN make operating theatres that are built for the future, by working smarter right now

We CAN make operating theatres that are built for the future, by working smarter right now

For many of us in the healthcare space, digital transformation is no longer a new concept. My company is one of many in the industry that is investing in  creating surgery that is smarter, less invasive, and more personalised. The evolution to digitally-enabled surgery feels like a paradigm shift, and I have no doubt of the potential that a connected, interoperable and digital ecosystem can deliver for both patients and healthcare systems. 

As promising as this potential is, proper deployment is equally (if not more) important. A challenge I’m personally seeing, not just in the UK but at a global scale, is tech being used without:

  • a clear use case or objective
  • addressing existing clinical or operational issues
  • the necessary cultural change or change management in place for effective deployment and data usage

Beyond wasting precious time and effort, this unsustainable implementation of technology, whereby its full potential is never seen or fulfilled, risks a loss of belief in digital technology that is hard to regain.

When my company rebranded from Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices to Johnson & Johnson  MedTech, I interpreted this as a signal of intent; a commitment to delivering breakthrough scientific innovation and reimagining healthcare delivery in an increasingly digital world. 
However, this commitment can only be delivered when we can look beyond just the operating theatre and focus on the entire pathway. 

End to end. 

Smarter theatres should operate in smarter ways. Technology itself can’t be the silver bullet, but when deployed appropriately as part of a continuum of care, it can have an almost immediate impact on areas that need it the most – like waiting list reductions, staffing crises, and time for enhanced surgical training, to name a few.

How can we do this? For me and my team, the answer is in our ecosystem, some digital, some analogue, some product-based innovation, but all providing value in their own right and running across the patient pathway, from diagnosis to treatment, to follow-up. You can learn about this offering at J&J MedTech here.

Smarter theatres also need to operate as a team. That means bringing digital and analogue together to create an ecosystem that is completely in sync. There are 5 key pillars to this, all underpinned by acknowledging the importance of the surrounding pathway and change management principles. 

  1. Next-Gen Robotics – to shape and transform digital surgery
  2. Smart Instruments – to collect data that can provide real-time decision making support
  3. Advanced Visualisation – to help surgeons see what is currently the unseen
  4. Digital Solutions – that are meaningful to care teams
  5. Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence (AI) – to create a structured data set

For me, innovation is exhilarating. I feel truly lucky to be on the front row witnessing the impact it is already having on patients, healthcare professionals, and hospital systems and it hasn’t even reached its full potential just yet. 

As exciting as innovation may be, innovation needs a champion. Every successful project I’ve been personally involved with at J&J has happened in partnership with a surgeon or member of the care team with a vision, passion, and, more importantly, the ambition to make meaningful and lasting changes in operating theatres. 

Whilst I’m confident the MedTech industry will continue to innovate, my ask of the clinical community is to begin to champion. This is an ask to champion innovation to support healthcare systems tackle their challenges of the here and now so that in partnership, we can make theatres that are built for the future, and make a true difference to the patients that we serve.