Frank Schleicher is the Director of Integrated Media Services for the IT department at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. And while navigating hallways saturated with Chicago Bear fans can offer its own set of
risks for this Green Bay Packers supporter, his daily IT-centric
OR support concerns offer a much more complicated set of challenges.
Schleicher, like many others throughout the healthcare community, is tasked with ensuring his hospital’s network can keep pace
with the unparalleled pace at which modern ORs are embracing
new technology. More specifically, hospital and surgery center IT
departments are being tasked with networking challenges related
to more data flowing at higher transmission speeds.
As the operating room embraces new hybrid functionality,
increased wireless connectivity and greater access to patient
information, Schleicher and his colleagues are in a constant battle
to keep pace. “In general,” Schleicher states, “the most over-
looked aspect is the impact many of these new capabilities have
on the network. With ORs and OR personnel wanting or need-
ing to access and share larger chunks of data, there needs to be a
conversation with the IT department right from the start.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s implementing new equipment or
building or expanding an operating suite, these types of projects
always go more smoothly and have more patient success when IT
knows what is going on,” he adds.
A key element of establishing a strong foundation for these new
platforms is understanding how the data needs to be routed. This
includes a working knowledge of where the information is being
housed and where the most common endpoints will be once this
data is requested by the network.
“This is really part of understanding the work flow of the OR
and the people in the OR,” offers Schleicher. “So we also have
to understand, from those in the OR, what the
next game-changers are going to be. Personally,
I think video is on everybody’s mind from an IT
and data management perspective.
“As more hybrid ORs come with built-in
recording, there will need to be some tough
decisions that focus on how much will be captured on video. Are we going to record everything? What do we do with those recordings?
Are there legal elements regarding what we can
and cannot record? Does this lead to network
security issues and the legal ramifications there?
“Then we get into other specific elements that
always need to be assessed in managing the quan-
tity of data that video can encompass,” he contin-
ues. “How long do we need to hold on to those
recordings or do we just keep certain portions of
the surgery to help validate a specific technique or
procedure? These might seem like simple ques-
tions but it all comes back to the network and the
strain that this type of technology places upon it.”
As is the case with most technology-laden addi-
tions, the resources available usually play a key
role in how networking challenges are addressed.
The OR Suite 2.0 … And Counting
A look at the key trends impacting your IT infrastructure, and ensuring you’re prepared to
keep pace with the data and networking capabilities demanded by OR technology today, and
into the future.
by Jeff Reinke