Why nearly 40 hospitals use AI 'black boxes' for surgeries

Dozens of hospitals have placed artificial intelligence-powered "black boxes" in operating rooms to improve surgical safety and outcomes, MIT Technology Review reported.

For instance, Teodor Grantcharov, MD, associate chief quality officer for safety and innovation at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Health Care, developed a system that employs panoramic cameras, microphones and anesthesia monitors to record surgeries, the data from which is analyzed by AI, according to the June 7 story.

Some hospital employees across the country have pushed back against the technology, either because they fear legal or job-related retaliation or say research on the devices' benefits isn't robust, the news outlet reported. Audio from surgeries is also a challenge to capture.

The Surgical Safety Technologies system developed by Dr. Grantcharov is used by nearly 40 institutions across the U.S., Canada and Europe, including Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System and Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Health System, according to the story. Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson and Intuitive Surgical also make operating room black boxes.

Hospitals with New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health and Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham also employ the technology, the publication reported. One estimate in the article put the cost of the black boxes at $100,000 to install and $25,000 a year for the analytics technology.

Dr. Grantcharov told MIT Technology Review he believes the black boxes can do for surgery what similar devices accomplished for airlines. "The aviation industry made the transition from reactive to proactive thanks to data," he said. "From safe to ultra-safe."

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