Robot completes first bladder construction
By Matthew Staff
Ken Harries, 61 has thanked surgeons at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, UK after an operation back in October has given him a full bill of health once again, with minimal scars to show for it.
Mr Harries was diagnosed with Bladder cancer last May, and despite being offered the usual invasive surgery to remove the necessary damage, his confidence in his consultant, Dr Edward Rowe, persuaded him to opt for a previously untested procedure.
“I suppose I was a little bit shocked when they said I’d be the first but that soon disappeared and after discussions with the wife it was a very simple choice,” the father of two said.
“The only way I could look at the cancer was to say ‘I am going to beat this’, and I am so glad I decided to go through with the operation.”
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The da Vinci robot was first used in 2008 to implement prostate removals, at the expense of £1.5 million. Since then, the device has carried out over 600 operations, aiding surgeons in cystectomys and nephrectomys which is the partial removal of kidneys.
This was the first of its kind involving work on the bladder however, with the procedure consisting of small incisions, and recreating the structure of the bladder by using some of Mr Harries’s own bowel tissue.
“Having removed the bladder containing the tumour, we reconstruct a new bladder from the patient’s own bowel and attach this internally to the patient’s urethra, allowing them to pass urine normally,” explained Dr Rowe, who navigated the robot from a nearby pod.
The major advantage of the da Vinci robot is its ability to carry out the operation at very small discomfort to the patient.
'Traditionally this is a major operation...but we hope that by using this minimal access route we can decrease the trauma to the patient, enabling them to obtain a faster recovery and return to normal activity,” Dr Rowe continued.
“Patients can be home from hospital following this type of surgery within four to seven days and in six to eight weeks they can return to a normal quality of life.”
And following his complete recovery and return to work within four months of his operation, Mr Harries is certainly likely to be recommending further procedures to be carried out by this medical gadget.
“When you consider what the team did...it sounds almost science-fiction, but now I feel as though nothing has changed.”
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Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025.
At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance.
Meeting regulation requirements
It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.
Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.
However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.
Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk.
With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?
Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.
Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.
Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools.
When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone.