Riverside Regional Medical Center is working with software vendor Index AR Solutions to build “augmented reality” apps to help clean and reprocess endoscopes.
The Newport News, Va.-based flagship of six-hospital Riverside Health System is hoping the effort will help prevent unnecessary infections for patients on whom scopes are used.
Proper cleaning and reprocessing of reusable endoscopes in hospitals has always been a high priority as the scopes are used to examine internal body parts and subpar cleaning of a scope can result in infectious agents being transmitted from one patient into the next patient.
Augmented reality apps contain software and sensors, and they can integrate digital visual content into a real-world environment. This content enables workers to follow step-by-step instructions displayed in 3D imagery along with safety warnings, 3D animations and written instructions also built into the app. In following instructions a user cannot move to the next step before a previous step is completed. Augmented reality supports learning through experience, particularly hands-on training.
“We need to know the scope is done the right way each and every single time,” says James Lesnick, MD, a neurosurgeon and senior vice president for business and venture development at Riverside Health. “While the organization has not experienced issues related to the cleaning and reprocessing of reusable endoscope devices, this is an issue that has caught the attention of the medical community, the public and the press.”
To start, Riverside Regional is focusing on development of an augmented reality app on a particularly difficult endoscope to clean—the duodenoscope, which is used to examine the pancreatic duct. If this type of examination not done properly, it can cause pancreatitis, which is inflammation in the pancreas.
The impetus for the app program is a commitment at the delivery system to become a more forward-looking organization, as apps become even more prevalent across industries, Lesnick notes. “Industries such as airlines and nuclear power are known for having the highest safety records and developing high-reliability apps. Healthcare ought to be on that list, and today it is not.”
Riverside Regional believes the endoscope program will have a high impact, but it is a small enough project to reach completion relatively soon, and then the organization will provide a demonstration to support innovation elsewhere among providers.
“We need to challenge ourselves to borrow from other industries to improve the care we provide to our patients,” Lesnick contends. “Toyota does not allow cars to go out of its factories with errors. Anything that allows us to do the same is really important to us.”