The odds are good that someone you know has had eye surgery – particularly cataract surgery. In fact, more than two million cataract surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. Not only is it one of the most frequently performed surgical surgeries performed today, it’s also one of the fastest and most successful, often allowing a lifetime eyeglass wearer to gain 20/20 vision literally overnight.

This does not mean, however, that ophthalmologists, the eye doctors who perform these surgeries, do not face challenges. Like any surgeon, ophthalmologists face tremendous pressures; especially given the clinical circumstances they are likely to encounter.

First, there’s the surgery itself. Eyes are among the most delicate of our body’s organs. Even routine cataract surgery is an extremely precise operation. Then there are emergency situations, when patients are wheeled urgently into an operating room, needing a surgeon to help prevent potentially permanent vision loss. No matter the scenario, surgeons and their supporting teams have to act fast, and the performance of the equipment on which they rely is critical.

As if that pressure wasn’t enough, ophthalmologists, like all doctors in the U.S. today, are under mounting pressure to find ways to increase their efficiency, improve workflow and cut costs.  They also are facing the same challenges associated with the increased consolidation of medical practices that we’re seeing across the broader U.S. healthcare system. As a result of these stressors, the need for solutions that help them work smarter and find new ways to maximize their overall practice efficiency is massive.

Enhancing eye surgery in the OR with IoT technology

As a manufacturer of ophthalmic surgical platforms, those of us at Bausch + Lomb knew that we needed to identify a new and different approach to directly address the challenges that today’s ophthalmologists face. It’s this thinking that led us to partner with IBM, as we recognized that Cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) technology would be the essential foundation for what we wanted to accomplish.

The combination of IBM’s expertise in software technology and ours in ophthalmic surgical platforms led us to develop a new solution leveraging cloud technology called eyeTELLIGENCE applications.  Available exclusively on Bausch + Lomb’s next-generation surgical platform for cataract and retina surgery, Stellaris Elite vision enhancement system, these two new applications will provide ophthalmologists with first-in-class efficiency features that include expedited technical support and the ability to synchronize their preferred surgical settings across multiple Stellaris Elite systems. We believe that these eyeTELLIGENCE applications will help reinvent the way operating rooms (ORs) function today.

Using the Watson IoT services on the IBM Cloud, we developed a surgical dashboard solution that captures, stores and analyzes device-specific data in the cloud. This provides Bausch + Lomb a centralized view of operational and performance data from its Stellaris Elite systems around the United States, and the ability to pinpoint and respond to technical and service requests made by surgeons and staff promptly. It also allows our team to identify system conditions that can be addressed proactively to limit or minimize down-time for the ophthalmologist.

Using eyeTELLIGENCE, ophthalmologists can gather information about the system and make service requests or report technical issues, which are then sent via the IBM Cloud to the appropriate team at Bausch + Lomb. In the past, when in need of technical support, an ophthalmologist or his staff would have to contact a sales representative or someone from Bausch + Lomb who might have needed to physically visit the doctor’s office to address the issue. The eyeTELLIGENCE application provides surgeons with a direct connection to Bausch + Lomb without having to call their rep in for a visit. By selecting the app on the machine’s digital screen and then using the drop-down menu to specify the type of assistance they need, the customers’ selection is immediately sent to the appropriate team at Bausch + Lomb, who will respond as soon as possible to provide assistance. Ophthalmologists can also grant Bausch + Lomb remote access into their Stellaris Elite system through the IBM Cloud, so that service teams can make technical assessments and software updates expeditiously.

What’s more, in the everyday life of an eye surgery OR, each piece of equipment must be calibrated to the specific requirements of a particular surgeon, resulting in as many as 100 different adjustments. Traditionally, the surgeon would sit down with a technician, who would then implement the adjustments on their other machines. That takes a lot of time.

Using eyeTELLIGENCE, ophthalmologists can sync their settings across all of the Stellaris Elite machines on which they operate, no matter the location. Surgeons need only login to their account from one machine to access and adjust settings. If a setting adjustment is made and saved on that machine, those changes can be applied to all Stellaris Elite machines connected to their account. Bausch + Lomb Stellaris Elite specialists can also help control settings for them across facilities through the eyeTELLIGENCE app. This feature will be a tremendous time-saving advantage for surgeons, especially those who operate on multiple platforms in several locations, and those who share machines with other surgeons.

Making IoT work in the OR

Through our partnership with IBM, we believe that we’re truly charting new territory by expanding what’s possible for eye surgery and for ophthalmic surgical platforms through the use of cloud technology.  The eyeTELLIGENCE applications will not only help us contribute to greater surgical efficiency, they also will help us become more engaged and connected with our customers than ever before. We look forward to continuing our partnership with IBM and exploring the use of cloud technology across our broad suite of surgical platforms to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers.

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