Is Augmented Intelligence the New Standard of Care?
October 9, 2023
Even for experienced surgeons, the OR is a taxing work environment. The days are long, and the mental and physical toll of back-to-back procedures is high. Thousands of hours of training are required to become a surgeon, and a surgeon shortage looms on the horizon. In addition to these industry challenges, surgery itself is variable and subjective: every patient has different anatomy, and surgeons have varying levels of experience. These and other intraoperative factors make surgery more unpredictable, and can lead to complications. But a digital solution exists to address these obstacles, simultaneously reducing surgery’s variability and the burden on surgeons: real-time Augmented Intelligence.
Augmented Intelligence is designed to inform surgery, reducing unpredictability in the OR and improving patient outcomes. It’s a digital assistant offering tools for a new level of assurance for both surgeons and patients alike. Rather than replacing the human element with automation—the aim of artificial intelligence—Augmented Intelligence increases the control a surgeon has, heightening their capability to drive better outcomes. As this technology continues to learn and evolve, it’s on a path to set the standard of care for surgery everywhere.
The Reality of Surgery’s Shortcomings
It’s been established that 1 in 20 patients undergoing surgery will experience a major complication, including organ damage, bleeding, and leaks.
“Complications and variability often go overlooked. You don’t see a lot of publications on those topics, because nobody wants to talk about it,” says Anthony Fernando, President and CEO of Asensus Surgical. “But hospital records show readmissions and reoperations—some of that’s happening because something didn’t go right the first time.”
To bring down the rate of complications, we need to look at the reality of the OR. Surgeons get trained differently, and not everyone has the same level of experience. Not only are they facing fatigue from long days in a high-stakes environment, they’re making decisions that affect the patient’s outcome while navigating countless unknowns, all amidst distractions typical of the OR.
For surgery to become safer, it will have to become more predictable. Augmented Intelligence could create a way to do that: it provides a set of digital tools giving order to disorder, delivering insights in real time, and reducing mental burden during an operation.
Insights Done Differently
Many surgical robotic systems allow for insights to be gleaned both before and after surgery. Augmented Intelligence will stand apart from what’s available today by providing insights from countless other surgeries around the world during an operation — when they have the most value to impact outcomes.
“We are able to interpret the data, and within 1/30th of a second, deliver that result back,” says Fernando. “We will still be able to measure surgeon performance for post-operative insights. But now, with real-time analysis, we can actually start tying each decision during surgery to patient outcomes.”
With real-time decision-making assistance impacting outcomes, surgeons and hospitals can start setting a new standard of care.
Augmented Intelligence gives surgeons peace of mind with a suite of digital tools that rises to the challenge of the OR environment. During an operation, they could be able to see warnings about potential complications, set “no fly zones” around anatomy they want to avoid, receive haptic feedback, and more.
In addition, the learning curve for Augmented Intelligence is easily manageable. Training on the Senhance® system, which already offers several Augmented Intelligence features, typically takes no more than 3 days. The instruments and techniques involved are familiar for those trained in laparoscopy. “We don’t teach them how to do surgery. We teach them how to use the technology,” Anthony Fernando says.
As Augmented Intelligence develops, surgeons could be able to view procedures through a new lens with the additional perspective of thousands of skillfully-performed past operations. For newer surgeons, this could become a way to learn from the best all throughout the world. Being less experienced could soon cease to be a barrier to providing the same level of care as an accomplished veteran. In this way, Augmented Intelligence is positioned to level the field of surgeon skill and training—and provide consistently high-quality care for patients.
Even the simplest procedures could result in complications, and for patients, one of the most frightening aspects of going into surgery is evaluating how much risk is involved. The capabilities of Augmented Intelligence could offer some reassurance on this front.
“By saying this is a standard operation, we’ve done this before, not only is the surgeon present, but he or she has a digital assistant—the patient feels better,” says Fernando.
No personal information would be collected through Augmented Intelligence since the camera starts recording once it sees internal anatomy and stops recording as it leaves the trocar. The technology is comparable to using a GPS. The destination can still be reached without it, but you wouldn’t have an ETA or be able to predict traffic on the way. Augmented Intelligence provides reliable, automated guidance that gets surgeons where they need to go.
“That’s the confidence that the patient is going to get,” states Fernando. “To be able to say: 'Okay, I’m in good hands — not only with the surgeon, but also with the technology that’s going to deliver a positive, predictable outcome for me.’”
Setting a New Standard
Augmented Intelligence converts the art of surgery into a science.
“Art is variable and totally dependent on the surgeon,” Fernando relates. “It’s somewhat subjective. When you digitize something, you can standardize it.”
When a patient is in the OR, reducing variability is more than just an extra step. It’s the next step—for the entire industry. By helping to standardize surgery, Augmented Intelligence has the potential to elevate the care provided by the surgeon as well as the patient’s level of assurance. And with a quick learning curve and compatible robotics, it’s possible to start leveraging this technology now.
A new standard of care, with technology that provides increased confidence for surgeons and peace of mind for patients, is not lightyears away. The journey has already begun.
Learn more about how Augmented Intelligence sets new standards in our comprehensive eBook: “Augmented Intelligence: The Answer to Surgery’s Shortcomings”
 Asensus Surgical 2022 primary and secondary market research report