ADORA or Advanced Doctor’s Operational Research Assistant is an interactive doctor’s assistant, which enables a unique display of a patient’s medical data prior to and during surgery. With the help of movement or gesture recognition and sound recognition, it provides for simpler, more natural, and more efficient communication between humans and computers. It was created by combining knowledge from medicine, modern IT and advanced machine equipment, and its hands-free interface shortens the duration of surgeries, directly affecting the economic and ecological aspects of healthcare.
The idea was conceived at the University Medical Centre in Maribor, where our research team strove to facilitate surgeons’ work during more demanding operations. In these situations, surgeons frequently need to access patient information, which consists of data on the patient’s tests and results. Examining the patient’s medical data during surgery is necessary and makes the decision-making process in critical situations easier. In order to inspect a patient’s medical data, the surgeon needs to leave the operating table and move to a computer to access the information. By doing so, valuable time is lost, because the surgeon needs to re-disinfect before returning. The re-disinfection process can take up to 10 minutes, resulting in the patient having to spend more time under anaesthesia, higher labour costs and increased use of medical supplies (water, gloves, gowns, cleaning fluids, sponges etc.). During more demanding surgery, the surgeon needs to view data several times (four times on average).
We found this to be a relevant and interesting challenge, and we thought we could arrive at a high-quality and unique solution using an interdisciplinary approach. A team was set up that enthusiastically tackled the problem in order to find a suitable solution. The team consisted of students of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as well as Media Communication. The expert “first-hand” knowledge of the problem provided to us by our colleagues from the University Medical Centre in Maribor was also very helpful. The ADORA team presented their solution at the Imagine Cup 2013 student competition, where they took first place in the category of innovation. They also won first place for the best student project in the field of IT at the 2013 Days of Slovene IT conference.
We envisioned a solution that would include touch free interaction with computers. These enable the user to manage the computer through movement or gesture recognition and voice commands instead of using old interfaces like a keyboard or a mouse. Hands-free interaction devices have gained considerable recognition in the world of games, while lately users of desktop applications have also become aware of their advantages. One such device is the Microsoft Kinect, which detects the user’s movements and voice commands. By incorporating the Microsoft Kinect device, we ensured the surgeon’s access to patient data during surgeries and therefore reduced surgery time and the time the patient spends under anaesthesia. Now the surgeon does not need to leave the sterile field, since he or she can use movements, gestures and voice commands to manage patient data.
But of course, that is not all. During the research, we found that the doctor’s preparation for an operation is time-consuming and demanding, since the data is scattered across different hospital information systems. For this reason, we also developed a tablet app for easier pre-surgery preparation. The surgeon uses the this app to inspect and prepare the data he or she will use during the surgery.
The team, which also included Boštjan Arzenšek, Andraž Leitgeb, Zeldin Salkanovič and Matej Vogrinčič (Project Manager at the University Medical Centre in Maribor), will continue to develop the ADORA IT solution and adapt it to the needs of the field. We will continue to carry out detailed needs analysis and adjust the working method of ADORA to different areas of medicine. By doing so, we will reduce the economic and ecological downsides of healthcare as well as patient waiting times. During our work, we realised that with the right approach, motivation, and an open mind, we can solve even the most difficult challenges.
Translated by: Nina Maslovarić.