Telemedicine in the Operating Room: The New Normal for MedTech

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There is incredibly high demand for collaboration during medical procedures – whether it’s a Cardiologist advising a more junior physician on a complex procedure, a renowned surgeon training other colleagues on a technique, a medical device company rolling out a new product, or a medical device rep providing product support during a surgery.

There’s no question that collaboration is critical to develop techniques and products for the advancement of medicine, and in fact, doctors have come to rely on in-person collaboration, especially as medical devices become more complex. Yet, the industry has long grappled with challenges associated with in-person support – from infection risk to non-stop travel and high costs. When COVID-19 disrupted the ability to travel and limited in-person healthcare, it put an additional spotlight on these issues and accelerated the need for change.

The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working

In a single day, a rep could travel between multiple hospitals or multiple states, spending more than half their day in cars, trains, planes and hospital lobbies, instead of providing critical technical expertise to physicians. Far too often, procedures are delayed or even cancelled because a rep cannot physically get to a hospital in time, or the rep arrives at the hospital in time, but the surgeon is delayed in another case and the rep is forced to spend hours waiting for the procedure.

Getting medical experts into the procedure room in the first place requires millions of hours and dollars spent coordinating travel, aligning schedules and preparing to safely enter a procedure room.

Telemedicine in the Operating Room

The use of telemedicine has soared since the start of the pandemic and it’s no surprise that demand for operating room solutions have increased. We are starting to see leaders embrace this shift, including the CEO of one of the world’s leading medical device manufacturers who said, ‘the new normal is exciting,’ adding that ‘anything that can be done remotely and virtual is preferred.’

As a MedTech sales rep for over 20 years, I agree that the ‘new normal’ is exciting, but I also know first-hand that using a video-only solution during a procedure doesn’t equate to being there in person. I’m proud to work for a company that is pioneering an integrated software and hardware solution that seamlessly puts remote medical professionals “in the room”, without having to be physically present.

Avail’s Procedural TelemedicineTM System is the first and only technology built to meet the specific needs of physicians and medical experts for remote collaboration during procedures, clinical education or training. The Avail System consists of a portable Console used by surgeons in the operating room, paired with a versatile app for reps remotely supporting their customer’s procedure. The console has high definition audio visual, as well as multiple pan-tilt-zoom cameras and external imaging equipment. Users can also split the screens to view inputs side-by-side, annotate, freeze frames and more.

With a proprietary blend of hardware and software, the Avail System ensures a seamless, consistent and reliable experience, including the highest quality audio visual and remote-controlled cameras with 30X zoom. Our technology is intuitive and easy to use making it easy to adopt as part of daily procedure room activities. While physicians “in the room” benefit from ethernet connectivity and tailored hardware, reps can use their own laptops or iPads from anywhere.

The Avail System is supported by the Avail Portal, a secure online platform used by our growing network of medical industry experts and physicians. The Portal allows users to easily manage schedules, update availability in real-time and collaborate at the click of a button. The Portal also provides tools to support medical device rep, particularly those in the field, to better run their remote activities and ultimately their business, including the ability to manage relationships, track historical utilization and improve time management.

Since the start of the pandemic, Avail’s Procedural TelemedicineTM solution has been used by multiple specialties in an increasing number of procedures. Case examples include:

A medical device rep was able to provide technical support for a last-minute emergency aortic dissection procedure in a situation where the rep wouldn’t have made it to the hospital in time to support physically in-person.
Medical device training programs provided for physicians, medical students and other industry rep streamed live from an orthopedic cadaver lab.

For too long, medical information sharing, and collaboration have depended on in-person communication. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to rethink nearly all aspects of our daily life, so too has it caused us to rethink how we deliver healthcare.