Surgeons must push for robots in OTs | Deccan Herald

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The global robotic surgery market is expected to surpass $7 billion by 2025, according to iData Research

Representative image. Credit: Reuters PhotoRepresentative image. Credit: Reuters Photo

Technological advancements have transformed medicine and helped clinicians achieve unprecedented clinical outcomes in recent years. For instance, in the past, surgeries were performed using open surgical procedures and minimally invasive procedures were a leap forward. Further, a cutting-edge advancement in minimally invasive care was made apparent by the innovation of medical robotics and computer-assisted surgical equipment. These systems can be segmented into rehabilitation systems, hospital and pharmacy systems, and surgical robotics systems.

Currently, surgical robotics systems are being widely adopted across the world. The global robotic surgery market is expected to surpass $7 billion by 2025, according to iData Research. Robot-assisted surgery can improve or correct several conditions while considerably lowering the risk of infection and offering greater precision and accuracy.

Since the first robot-assisted surgery in the 1980s, robotic minimally invasive surgery has advanced significantly. Today, surgical robots allow for smaller incisions, potentially fewer post-operative complications, and enhanced patient outcomes.Moreover, the rising demand for minimally invasive surgeries, the rising incidence rate of chronic diseases, general awareness regarding computer-aided surgeries, increasing disposable income, and the introduction of technologically advanced systems are propelling the growth of this market.

However, there is a critical gap between the demand for surgical procedures and the availability of surgical workforce in India, which, if not addressed, will continue to widen. It is important that surgeons across India, who have the potential to address the challenge, take the lead by adopting robot-assisted surgery technology.

Increasingly, machines using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics are making human-like decisions and performing cognitive functions. This also opens new frontiers in surgical robotics, where surgeons are uniquely positioned to steer these innovations. Since the lack of data can limit the predictions made by AI, surgeons should seek to expand their involvement in clinical data registries to ensure all patients are included. These can consist of local, national, or international levels of registries. As data cleaning techniques improve, registries could be linked to expand their utility and increase the availability of clinical, genomic, radiographic, and pathologic data.

As research has demonstrated that surgical technique and skill correlate to patient outcomes, AI could help pool surgical experience to bring the decision-making capabilities and practices of the global surgical community into every operation theatre. Big Data could be leveraged to create a “collective surgical consciousness” that carries the field’s knowledge, leading to technology-augmented
real-time clinical decision support such as intraoperative, GPS-like guidance.

Surgeons can provide value to data scientists by imparting their understanding of the relevance and importance of the relationship between seemingly simple topics, such as anatomy and physiology, and more complex phenomena, such as disease pathophysiology, the operative course, or postoperative complications. These relationships are essential to appropriately model and predict clinical events and improve machine learning approaches’ interpretability.

The millennium has been characterised by democratisation across sectors, and it is important that we keep fueling it even in medicine. Nevertheless, this can happen only when we as care providers use technology to make expertise accessible to a larger patient population.

A pressing priority is to expand the surgical workforce while also making each surgeon’s workload more manageable. So, as we continue to use data from successful surgeries, surgical robots will eventually assist in automating more aspects of surgical procedures, enhancing the patient experience, and lowering complications. In addition, more automation will free up surgeons from performing routine and rote tasks that make up a significant part of their workload, helping to reduce burnout and making a career in surgery even more desirable than it is today.

Put simply, robotic surgery is a compelling solution to deliver on the promise of minimally invasive precision surgery. Surgeons must take up the baton and define an all-new charter for patients everywhere. The new frontier must include remote surgery with locally trained bedside teams supporting it. This is important because every patient deserves the highest standards of care, and their location should not limit them from receiving it.

(The writer is the Executive Vice Chairperson of a hospital chain.)

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