Thursday, August 19, 2010

InformationWeek: "Advancing IT, Propelling Pediatric Surgery"

The Aug. 19 issue of Information Week features Dr. Nabile Safdar, principal investigator for the bioengineering initiative at the Sheikh Zayed Institute, and his work to apply the latest technologies to improve surgery.

"While video gaming gives teenagers the feeling of being immersed in a 3D world of complex landscapes and allows them to communicate in real time, those same types of technologies can be applied for simulated training and preparation of surgeons doing delicate operations on kids, such as spine surgery to correct scoliosis, curvature of the spine. 'In most cases, in 2010 we prepare the same way for surgery as 30 to 40 years ago,' Safdar said. That means surgeons rely on 2D X-rays to prepare and plan for many procedures, rather than 3D views of the patient's organs....

"But the use of medical imaging technologies such as low-radiation CT scans combined with special algorithms can be used to get 'dynamic 3D representations of the spine ahead of time, so that there's much less guesswork in surgery,' he said....'We tend to think of surgery as what goes on in the operating room,' Safdar said. 'But surgery is a round trip that starts and ends with the patient,' he said. That includes multiple visits to doctors, specialists, labs, and other testing facilities to make diagnosis and plans for surgery. 'Along the way, a lot of technology isn't leveraged at all,' he said. That includes the bringing together of information that comes from lab tests, medical images, electronic health records (EHRs), and other sources....

"Another aim of the institute is to develop or improve asynchronous real-time communication so that clinicians and other medical experts can better collaborate and share information in real-time, rather than rely on phone tag or e-mail, he said. Instant messaging isn't used in healthcare because it's not secure enough for exchanging patient's medical information. New developments in presence technologies could bolster communication among clinicians during patient procedures, he said.

"As for the team of bioengineers, technologists, and clinicians being assembled for the institute, 'our goal is to work in the same location, share expertise,' so that care and outcomes are improved not only for children treated at Children's National Medical Center, 'but for all children,' he said."

Read the article.