touch-free-surgery
Medical Devices

Spanish TedCas fights infection with 'touch-free' tech

Handling medical equipment in the operating theatre is fraught with risks. If a surgeon touches a keyboard or a mouse it can pose the threat of infection. In fact, the situation can become so dangerous that it can lead to extended hospital stays and even in some extreme cases death. According to findings, two out of every 100 surgeries in the US result in surgical site infections (SSIs).

TedCas in Spain is a health technology company that is addressing this problem through the creation of its ‘touch-free’ technology. It offers a number of different devices that allow surgeons to access digital medical information and images through natural hand gestures in the air.

“We allow surgeons to control their software in real-time from the place they are in the operating room, which is, by the side of the patient,” says Jesús Pérez-Llano, CEO of TedCas.

For Pérez-Llano, the problem with using hands to consult medical information does not just rest with preventing infection. It’s also about taking time away from the patient.

“Normally the doctor is focused in the operation itself, but when information has to be consulted, the surgeon has to ask for help as the surgeon is not supposed to touch anything, or [he/she] has to go out of the sterile zone, consult it and then wash again,” Pérez-Llano tells me. “Either one option or the other means a waste of time and even worse, the surgeon loses focus on the patient.”

How much time does using a touch-free device save?

“[It] depends on the procedure and the number of times [information] is consulted and the duration of the consultation. Sometimes they only have to check the image they already have on the screen and sometimes they have to load another one, zoom in, and rotate. In any case, every minute counts,” he adds. “In a study it was found that a single minute in the operating room costs between S15-20.”

Might the conditions in operating rooms affect the way the ‘touch-free’ device works?

“It mainly depends on the sensor the surgeon wants to use. We offer a great variety of sensors, as there are different kinds of operating rooms, specialties and even surgeons. So, the short answer is yes and that's why we offer such a great variety of options for adapting our tech to the environment....instead of asking the surgeon to adapt the environment to the technology. Our focus is making asurgeon’s life easier and increasing patient safety.”

Currently a number of surgeons from Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, and US have used this technology in clinical cases with patients in several specialities. Pérez-Llano says the response from the medical community has been largely positive.

“[The] medical sector, especially in surgery is incredibly open to new technologies. We have found a lot of interest on their side and they are extremely collaborative,” Pérez-Llano says. “People are different in different countries. However, surgery is a field with a lot of protocols to be followed, which makes the procedures very similar. The main difference is from the point of view of the sales channel as the Spanish healthcare system is public which is very different from private healthcare systems.”

It is not hard to imagine how this type of ‘touch-free’ technology to be useful in other sectors and TedCas is already integrating its technology in other environments: “We are watching how interesting applications in robotics and gaming are becoming more and more used. The way we interact with machines is changing and this kind of gesture/voice (natural) communication is becoming a revolution in the sector,” explains Pérez-Llano.

But when does he see this type of technology becoming more mainstream in the operating room?

“It's not easy to say, but during the last half of 2014 and so far in 2015 we have seen more and more surgeons interested in this kind of tech. Becoming mainstream will be step by step...maybe in two years you could see it as something usual in operating rooms.”

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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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