By Andrew Flanagan

As new research and innovation advance the healthcare industry, it’s an exciting time to be a healthcare professional at the intersection of technology and clinical applications.

Technology is more complex than ever before, and it can be difficult to keep up with the pace of solutions that are being introduced in hospitals every day. Intraoperative imaging in neurosurgery is gaining ground as a critical tool for more precise and effective surgeries, improving patient outcomes while offering advancements in workflows and efficiencies that affect healthcare professionals in and beyond the operating room (OR). Not least of those affected by these developments are the healthcare technology management professionals who are responsible for the equipment throughout the life of its use.

The latest innovation in neurosurgical imaging is a moving intraoperative MRI (iMRI) and intraoperative CT (iCT) system that allows neurosurgeons to gain access to brain image detail while the patient is on the operating table. IMRIS, a global intraoperative imaging leader, developed the first and only solution of its kind, the IMRIS Surgical Theatre. This solution includes multiple, custom-designed operating room configurations—featuring a moving, ceiling-mounted iMRI or iCT imaging modality and the flexibility to move in and out of operating rooms.

The solution gives neurosurgeons a way to bring advanced imaging technology to the patient rather than moving the patient to the imaging system. The results are life-changing, giving neurosurgeons greater precision and accuracy during surgery, reducing the need for additional operations, and eliminating patients’ exposure to possible infection when moving in and out of the OR. Additionally, the IMRIS Surgical Theatre can be configured so that when the MRI isn’t being used in surgery, it can be used for diagnostics in an adjacent room, or even set up to move between two operating rooms to maximize its use and value.

Designing, creating, and sustaining an operating room that brings together imaging and neurosurgery with this level of intricacy requires involvement of professionals with a variety of expertise—from architects to clinicians, engineers, information technology (IT) specialists, and beyond. Contribution and collaboration from all sides is critical to ensure both quality and safety while delivering the best possible experience for hospital staff and the highest standard of care for patients.

As your hospital evaluates new technologies in intraoperative imaging, it is critical to rely on vendors that take a holistic approach on implementation from start to finish, going beyond clinical teams to support the hospital’s needs at every possible point of integration.

IMRIS is the only intraoperative imaging provider facilitating collaboration between all of the necessary parties while offering comprehensive consulting, design and training services for each room they develop. Its four-pillared approach—consult, design, create, support—results in a truly customized, hybrid operating room that is tailor-made for individual hospitals, surgical teams, and biomedical professionals responsible for use and maintenance.

The benefits of any customized solution are typically realized during initial planning meetings. When looking for a partner, consider vendors who will understand the needs of your hospital, along with what products, processes, and workflows have been most effective in the past, to further inform how the operating room should be set up moving forward. This has been a historic pain point for biomedical teams who often get brought into the conversation too late to offer any meaningful contribution to new hospital resources.

The total involvement and cost of owning medical equipment is often overlooked by both vendors and clients in these early stages of development. After everything is in place, ongoing maintenance, repairs and service or warranty contracts all factor into the efficacy of the solution, as well as the cost.

While innovative solutions are critical, it is also important to know the specific needs, resources, and expertise that exists within the hospital to identify innovative opportunities in context and for the realization of relevant goals and outcomes. Any department that uses or maintains the solution warrants involvement and ongoing training. Partnering with vendors who can consult broadly for those directly and indirectly involved not only streamlines processes, but it also saves significant costs to facilities.

With IMRIS, a clinical application specialist team is dedicated to each hospital as they are developing the specs and layout of each room. They make it a priority to involve healthcare technology management professionals from the outset and to understand their critical role in achieving desired outcomes. IMRIS offers customized training for a range of disciplines in preparation for both intended and unintended use cases.

In bringing together both traditional operating room surgical teams and MRI professionals—as well as biomedical and clinical teams—IMRIS works with hospital staff to support cross-training and complete integration for the new environment. Before first use, IMRIS consultants facilitate a lengthy, hands-on simulation in the room, bringing individuals in for mock procedures to practice workflows and operations as if a patient were on the table. IMRIS will work with necessary teams to prepare for potential code procedures or emergencies. Safety is the No.1 priority of the clinical team and because each surgical theatre is different, the expertise that IMRIS brings to training—even as it relates to things like cleaning and maintenance—is paramount.

As quality, safety, and innovation continue to advance healthcare, integrators and consultants who support hospital staff by developing and integrating technological solutions with clinical applications will be of increasing value to hospitals focused on delivering the best possible outcomes for biomedical teams and their patients.

Andrew M. Flanagan is the president and chief executive officer of IMRIS, and a member of the company’s board of directors. Flanagan has an extensive and diverse background, previously serving in senior leadership roles for Siemens, SAP, and Xerox.