QR In The OR: Remote Technology For A Sterile Environment 

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More commonly known for being a convenient way to connect people with online information or shopping coupons, QR codes are now the cornerstone of communication in the operating room (OR). So how has Rods&Cones transformed this technology from a novelty into a necessity for sterile environments?

In this blog post Bruno Dheedene, CEO and Co-Founder of Rods&Cones, shines a spotlight on the QR code functionality in our remote assistance services, and how it can support vital knowledge sharing in frontline surgical care. 


What It Is

Invented in the mid-nineties, the quick response (QR) code is an advanced barcode that stores data readable by a digital camera. Typically, they contain a URL and provide a scannable link to an Internet address. They’re used for various purposes, predominantly in advertising and marketing, and more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of track and trace systems. 

Rods&Cones smart surgical glasses and digital remote assistance platform harness this technology in a new way. QR code technology provides a simple and seamless solution for surgeons who need to contact an expert from outside the OR to help them with key decision-making. There’s no need for a scrub-up because the remote expert, securely signed in to Rods&Cones remote assistance platform, has full audiovisual communication and a surgeon’s eye view of the OR.    


How It Works

The surgeon puts on the battery-powered smart glasses. From the moment they’re switched on, the glasses are in scanning mode. If the surgeon needs to communicate with an expert outside the OR, they request the relevant QR code for the person or team with the right expertise.

Using a connected device, such as a phone or computer, an attending nurse can easily find this information in the Expert Address Book. It shows them what medical experts are available at that specific time and provides them with a QR code. The nurse holds the QR code up to the surgeon. They then scan it with the smart glasses and instantly get connected once the call has been answered. 

The calling process is automated. The software checks to see if the expert is online using a computer and if they’re connected via a video call. Should the expert be away from their desk, the software contacts their mobile phone. If the expert picks up, they can get behind a computer and then transfer the call to their computer. This brings up full audiovisual communication.

As the QR code can be linked to a group, should there be no response from one expert, an escalation model can be easily set up to schedule a queue of experts for specific dates and times. So there’s no need to re-dial, or re-scan, the platform automatically handles the connections for the user.


Why It’s Important 

When it comes to the OR, the lead surgeon is both the main performer and the master of the proceedings. That means the introduction of any new technology to enhance their work must fit seamlessly into their workflows. And it has to work. A surgeon doesn’t need an extra layer of complication or any unnecessary distractions from the task at hand.

In the OR, the lead surgeon runs the show. So if at a given moment, they need a second opinion and another pair of eyes on the situation, it’s their call, and no one else’s. At the same time, in a sterile environment, they can’t reach for a manual to get advice or follow the proper steps. When time is of the essence, getting another surgeon to travel to the OR, having them scrub in, and provide advice takes time they simply don’t have.

Wearing Rods&Cones smart surgical glasses, the surgeon can call upon expert advice by simply looking at a QR code. They get full communication with the right expert with no need to scrub in. The technology opens an on-demand communication channel without the need to get someone else to manually make a phone call and listen to instructions via the phone’s speaker, from across the OR. Once connected, the expert sees what the surgeon sees and has a two-way audio communication with them, directly in their ear. 


The Four-Eyed Approach

Scanning a QR code to bring another pair of expert eyes into surgical decision-making ensures a four-eyed approach. Just as a commercial aircraft always has two pilots to ensure the safety of passengers, surgeons sometimes require a second opinion to ensure the best decision-making and patient outcomes. 

For example, surgeons removing the gallbladder commonly use the Critical View of Safety (CVS) to identify and target the cystic duct and the cystic artery. In 0.5% of cholecystectomy surgeries, the wrong duct is severed. This can lead to severe health complications. 

Whilst these kinds of mistakes are rare, they do happen. Not only is there a negative consequence in terms of patient outcomes, there can also be reputational and legal costs to consider. This could be easily mitigated by enabling a surgeon to look through smart glasses at a QR code – and get that invaluable second opinion when they need it the most.


Bring in a second opinion from an expert, without them setting foot in your OR, with smart surgical glasses, and the remote assistance platform from Rods&Cones. Want to learn more?


Book a demo here!

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