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Dec 1, 2017,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Loyola develops system to improve robotic surgery

A medical team at Loyola has developed an on-line system for recording robotic surgery carried out by trainee surgeons, to improve the documentation.

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Going by the name of RoboLog, it has been developed by Loyola University Chicago and provides accurate information on the performances of each of its surgeons who have carried out an operation involving robotic surgery. RoboLog has already logged over 600 robotic surgery operations in urology (including 11 routine cases of urological robotic surgery), with 300 of them recently featuring in the Journal of Surgical Education.

Filling in the gaps in current archive procedure

Gopal Gupta, an oncological urology and robotic surgery expert at Loyola, believes that urologists have played a pioneering role in the development of robot-assisted surgery. Prostate cancer operations are among the robotic surgery procedures carried out most frequently, and Gupta is disappointed by the fact that there is no standard protocol for learning the required techniques, and indeed no means of evaluating the learning process. "We had no system to determine exactly who was qualified to perform robotic surgery, nor what everyone’s skill levels were in this particular domain," he explained. "What we now have is born out of a desire to train future surgeons as part of our residency programme."

RoboLog was thus developed by Gupta and his team to give a relevant account of the actual levels of robotic surgery experience of each surgeon being trained. The system that was initially used, namely the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (or ACGME), awards a surgeon who for example had merely carried out a lymph node removal as many credits as one who had completed a full prostate cancer surgery operation. "That system allows a resident to sign up whether they are a surgeon or an assistant," said Gupta, outlining what he sees as obvious flaws. "He or she can carry out a mere 10% of a procedure and still be documented as a surgeon."

Personalised moitoring of young surgeons

To counter this problem, the new RoboLog system enables "highly accurate archiving of robotic surgery cases", a delighted Gupta explained, as it provides the best possible evaluation of the progress achieved throughout the training process, and identifies any gaps that need attention.

Gupta reports that the residents use RoboLog for example to review each of the stages of the surgical procedures that are carried out and to evaluate the number of minutes they required. He adds that thanks to the new system, each trainee surgeon can get personalised feedback on their strengths and weaknesses, and that this can all be integrated into a curriculum vitae. "Every three months, the trainee surgeon and his mentor receive a report that is automatically generated and which details how many surgical procedures were carried out, what type, how they went and how long they took, and finally a summary of personalised observations," Gupta says.

Loyola is intending to start using RoboLog in other medical areas, while Gupta states that they have "begun a collaboration with certain training programmes at regional hospitals in Boston and New York, with the aim of making this a multi-institutional process". 


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