Could Network-enabled Robotics Revolutionise my Daughter’s Healthcare?


About 16 months ago mine and my husband’s lives changed. I was near the end of my second pregnancy and what was supposed to be a routine scan turned into a nightmare – our little girl's heart was huge, we didn’t know what was in store for us and we were preparing for the worst. Her diagnosis was Ebsteins Anomaly, she had a serious problem with her tricuspid valve.

16 months on, the journey we’ve been on is quite incredible. I am an expert in the anatomy of the heart, I am amazed at the amazing work doctors and nurses do and I am now so aware how technology is transforming the health and medical experience for patients like us.

Having numerous NHS trusts as customers and enabling their digital transformation, I now see that the technology and support that we (ANS) provide can literally be the difference between life and death, and the reliance on technology is getting even greater. 

 Robotics – the impact of technology on heart surgeries

It is highly likely that our daughter will need surgery to repair her valve, but what that surgery will be could be dramatically different in a few years because of Robotics. Robotics for surgery was originally designed to assist in battlefield procedures but is now commonly used in civilian hospitals and has been used for some heart procedures since 1990.

As Robotics technology develops there is the very real possibility this technique will be used for the more complex procedures, such as valve repairs. Removing the need for Open Heart Surgeries will reduce the risk of the procedure and improve the recovery time for patients. This is really exciting for parents and patients like us.

But what is even more exciting is the possibilities when other technologies are used alongside Robotics – such as a Wide Area Network. Robotics over a Wide Area Network could mean that the surgeon doesn’t need to be present, in the same room, county or even country. It could mean for patients of rarer conditions they could get access to the leading healthcare provider to receive specialist care without having to travel. For our daughter’s condition, the leading surgeon is in Rochester, Minnesota but we’re in the UK. These technologies remove a barrier to the care we need.

Reliance on Technology

So now I’m excited. But like any parent, my mind goes to the risk. The risk of network failures, the risk it happens out of hours, network design, resiliency, responsiveness, latency. Maybe I know too much. But I also know that technologies such as SDWAN can help manage these risks by understanding the requirements of the application, choosing the best path available and therefore ensuring the responsiveness of the network. With all these technological developments I realise how close we are to this reality.

I also realise that as a business that support NHS trusts 24/7 we are making the difference to individuals and their families. At a recent All Staff meeting our CEO Paul Shannon was talking about our amazing support staff said ‘It doesn’t matter the time or whether it’s the 300th call you’ve received, our guys need to take every call like its their first, like a life depends on it.’ And he’s right, because sometimes it actually does.

Posted by Amy Grace

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