November 1, 2018

Reliable Operating Room Project kicks off

The ‘Reliable Operating Room Research Project’ kicks off at Northern Hospital Epping this week.

In partnership with the University of Melbourne – School of Computing and Information Systems, the new project enables Northern Health to study the activities of our staff in the operating room.

Gabriele Marini, PhD candidate from the University of Melbourne, said the system is designed to help understand how people are moving within the building, monitoring not just the staff members, but also the patients and providing crucial information on the entire flow.

“From the moment they enter the building, they will be given a tag, which is a Bluetooth beacon. This allows us to see the flow – where they get stuck, see if there are any delays, and follow their journey from reception, to the ward and surgery, until the moment they leave,” he said.

The project is now in the pilot phase with a sample of staff testing the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacon technology, with sensor boxes deployed in areas throughout the operating room environment. Staff have been given a small tag to carry, which directly communicates with the boxes.

Bluetooth Beacon

“By analysing the signals from the beacons, we can infer the room in which a particular person was at a particular time,” Gabriele explained.

Professor Vassilis Kostakos from the University of Melbourne explained that ultimately, the project will generate aggregate statistics regarding the flow of staff and patients in and out of the operating room, which can be used to characterise the workflows.

Bill Shearer, Anaesthetist and Executive Director Transformation Quality & Safety, said the research aims to improve the efficiency and experience in the operating room, for patients and staff alike.

“The metrics will allow us to model, analyse and interpret the systemic actions taking place in our operating room,” he said.

After the initial testing phase, the technology will also be rolled out to tracking patient movements.