Robots are common in the operating room, but there’s no standard curriculum to train surgeons to use them.
The global surgical robotics market is expanding rapidly and may soon be worth $120B. But is the medical training ecosystem ready for the shift to robot-assisted surgeries?
As more surgeons use robots in the OR, the approach for training on them and using them needs to be standardized. The truth is that all surgeons aren’t approaching this innovative tech the same way. Standardized best practices are what set surgeons and patients up for success, and will help to make robotic surgery safer in the future.
So how do we improve it?
There are a handful of new challenges the surgical team faces with robots: how to collaborate, how to coordinate (both the physical setup and the tasks), and how to communicate. What’s needed is a concerted effort to make sure all surgeons are using the robots the way they were intended so surgery is efficient and effective.
Two medtech startups that are leading the charge on this are Explorer Surgical, which is a digital playbook that walks every team member in surgery through the steps to be successful, and Osso VR, which trains surgeons using high-fidelity VR. I recently connected with Justin Barad, MD, CEO and co-founder of Osso VR, and Dr. Alex Langerman, MD, SM, FACS and Co-founder of Explorer Surgical, about the future of robot assisted surgery and the critical need to standardize training.
GN: What are some of the most difficult things for surgeons to adapt to when transitioning from traditional to robot-assisted surgery?
Dr. Alex Langerman: Physicians are faced with multiple challenges when transitioning to robot-assisted surgery. Still, the most significant has to do with learning the complexities of integrating a new device into a surgical workflow and overcoming a learning curve to operate as an experienced team.
Robotic-assisted technology can be straightforward or very complex; there are many little things that a clinical team needs to learn when adapting to a new technique. For example, the placement of a robotic arm, the room set up, adjustment of the bed, and any registration needed for the patient and procedure. Aside from the technical setup, the complexities can also include customizing the physician’s interface and preferences for ‘must haves’ in the OR. This preparation minimizes the potential for intraprocedural delays or disruptions. Secondly, training the surgical team is as important as training the physician as with any new device. It’s the physician’s responsibility to make sure the procedure goes well for the patient and that every team member in the room knows what their specific tasks are regarding the device and its use. A digital playbook with every step related to the procedure, specific to each role in the OR, can bring significant support to ensuring that nothing is overlooked.
Image Credit: Cory Calendine, MD / Stryker