Proximie’s ‘software first’ approach: why it matters
Andreas Christodoulou has been an account manager at Proximie for three years, following the completion of his MA in Project Management at Northumbria University. He travels extensively to integrate Proximie’s software platform into operating rooms across the world.
In the past month alone, I have visited hospitals in six different countries to install Proximie. Broadly speaking, my role as account manager revolves around communicating Proximie to the customer; how it works, how it’s used and how it can be employed to expand their practice.
The first step is an in-person visit to scope out the OR and check how it’s built; seeing where the surgeon works and where the scrub nurses work informs optimal placement of the cameras. The equipment needs to be placed where it won’t affect the daily activities of surgeons and nurses. Once this has been taken into consideration, we can explore which angles will provide the best view of the surgeon and the surgical field.
After the surgeon has carried out a successful case in the account manager’s presence, the next step is finding the right person to train on the Proximie platform — so that once we’re not there, there will be someone on-site who knows how to set it up. Finally, once the clients are happy that they know how to use Proximie, we ask them for feedback on any different features or tweaks they might need — for example, if they have four camera feeds they might ask for a fifth feed. We then go back to the developers team to help tailor the set-up to the client’s specific needs.
One of the most important aspects of the Proximie platform is our ‘software first’ approach, meaning that we are hardware agnostic. The important thing about the way Proximie was originally designed was that Dr. Nadine Hachach-Haram wanted our software to be available to the broadest user base possible. She wanted to ensure Proximie was not siloed to a particular surgical specialty or reserved to one region in the world.
“Our software strategy was all about access and accessibility, which means I could be integrating Proximie into really high-end clinical settings or very basic ones, but the user experience is the same.”
Our platform is as capable of connecting to a low-spec laptop or mobile, as it is connecting to high-spec hardware. In addition to being available to a broad user base, Proximie is also able to connect with any number of other devices within any given operating room. From a robot to a laparoscopic lens, we can plug-in to any existing hardware and a surgeon can use our platform immediately. This has enabled Proximie to be used in every single surgical specialty. The idea is for Proximie to act as a link for all these devices, to enable surgeons to apply their skills, and therefore help as many patients as possible.
“I kind of see Proximie as the Microsoft or Apple of healthcare, because you can install it on any kind of laptop and you’re ready to go.”
It then enables the function of a whole suite of different features within the platform; we have the live streaming function with 4HD video views, we have the video library, you can carry out surgical reviews and you have a live dashboard where you can post comments and other procedural related content, such as patient scans. It provides access to a set of products or features within the platform, which every customer can use in the way that best suits their needs and benefits their project.
For example, we had one client during COVID-19 who asked if they could use Proximie to perform virtual ward rounds. We sourced a tablet for him and he wore a headset while he visited his patients, live-streaming his rounds to his team in different parts of the hospital. Because of the pandemic, there was a limit on how many people were allowed in rooms at any given time, so in this instance Proximie made it possible for the client to draw on the expertise of his entire team in real-time, even though they couldn’t accompany him on the rounds in person.
I think that in the next year we will see a lot of hospitals using 5G, and that will not only make integrating Proximie much easier, but it will also make it much easier to have real-time interaction across international borders. It’s possible that we’re on the cusp of inconsistent internet connectivity from region to region becoming a thing of the past.
Another thing that makes Proximie easier to implement is our recent partnership with Teladoc Health, which will see Proximie built into a physical medical trolley that includes a camera and capture cards on it — a movable device that has everything you need to live-stream an operation, built into a single cart that surgeons can deploy quickly and simply. It is a plug-and-play Proximie solution, and this is really only possible because Proximie is hardware agnostic. We can layer on exciting technologies swiftly in order to create better user experiences in the OR.
We are working towards Proximie being completely plug-and-play; with virtually no wires, cabling or set-up being necessary at all. One aspect of this, as mentioned previously, is the rise of 5G — and, alongside that, the potential of Starlink to increase internet connectivity in hard-to-reach corners of the world. Then there is the Internet of Things (IoT), which is working towards devices being able to communicate more easily with one another — for us that includes wireless cameras, wearables and capture cards that can send signals from machines straight to Proximie.
“What that means, in practical terms, is that Proximie is really moving towards becoming the central cog in any operating room.”
What that means, in practical terms, is that Proximie is really moving towards becoming the central cog in any operating room; easily accessible via any hospital’s network on a laptop or mobile, capable of connecting to any hardware, and then able to broadcast a live video feed to surgeons all over the world. All of that data and insight gathered from Proximie can then be fed back into the healthcare ecosystem to different stakeholders in the chain to enable better performance and understanding in the future.
As an account manager, it feels great to be able to connect to basically any operating room and broadcast any speciality. We can go into cath labs, we can go into orthopaedics, we can do open and closed surgical cases.
“Our ‘software first’ approach means anyone can deploy Proximie in any setting and easily adapt it to their needs. It’s simply a case of identifying the necessary hardware, installing it and then everything feeds seamlessly into Proximie.”