New operating theatre software for more efficient teamwork and greater patient satisfaction

In late 2022, our hospital launched a pilot project in the operating theatre with the software system SPM ('Surgical Procedure Manager'), developed by SPI ('Surgical Procedure Institute') and commercialised by Johnson & Johnson. The SPM software provides a digitised workflow during operations to standardise different working methods and make teamwork more efficient. The hospital currently uses the software in six different types of operations for three different disciplines: urology, general surgery and cardiac surgery.

During an operation, SMP, the new software system, displays the different steps on a screen, which are visible to everyone around the operating table. Besides the extremely detailed preparation for each surgical procedure, the system also provides clarification to the care team through text, images and videos. A nurse operates a foot pedal when completing a particular step to bring a new step into view each time. The displayed steps are adapted to the specific type of surgery and tailored to the surgeon in charge. Needless to say, the surgeon and the entire team maintain full control over the course of the procedure at all times.

In doing so, the SPM software issues an alert when a critical or error-prone step is involved. To shorten the waiting time for the next patient, the system also indicates when the procedure is about to be completed. This way, the team knows when it is time to start preparing the next patient for his or her procedure.

Data-based optimisation

The system also allows for the collection, analysis and reporting of data concerning and during operations, while respecting applicable privacy rules. At the end of the operation, the physician in charge automatically receives a report about the operation via the system, where comments can be formulated, for example, about non-routine steps or complications that may have occurred. The nursing team receive a short questionnaire that gauges how the procedure went and what the atmosphere was like in the room.

An analytical module is also attached to the system. That checks how much time each step took. This allows physicians to compare different operations afterward and to see where things went well or where there is room for improvement. This module is linked to the electronic patient record and can thus link the steps followed in the surgical process with the patient's reported experiences and outcomes.

Dr Filip Ameye, Chief Innovation Officer: ‘Maria Middelares General Hospital implemented the concept of ‘value-based health care' (VBHC), a way to make health care more sustainable, in 2019. This means that the value for the patient is paramount. The aim is to improve patient outcomes and the patient experience, while keeping the overall cost of applied health care under control. The capabilities of this software are a perfect fit for this concept.’

Isabel Verniers, Paramedic Department staff nurse: ‘We introduced the software to further optimise team performance in the operating facility. The SPM software also shortens the training process for new care providers. Through on-the-job experience, they learn the different steps of the process through clear, step-by-step digital support while they are assisting and instrumenting complex procedures. This means that they begin the procedure with greater confidence, which improves their job satisfaction.’

Dr Ronny Goethals, Chief Medical Officer: ‘The SPM software provides additional support for streamlining methods. What’s more, every employee and physician involved in the procedure receives real-time insights into the applied working methods. The system both reduces stress and heightens the attention of the surgical team. By further reducing the risk of complications, patients can go home faster on average after their surgery, which increases the patient satisfaction.’